LAS VEGAS -- With increased exposure comes increased scrutiny, as the UFC
has learned through its fast rise to becoming a sports powerhouse.
As the promotion continues preparation for its network television premiere on FOX on November 12, they have faced a recent, ongoing campaign led by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226
, charging that the UFC
is unfit for children due to abusive and bigoted language by UFC president Dana White and his fighters, a charge White denies.
As part of that campaign, the union, which represents more than 50,000 workers on the Las Vegas Strip but is embroiled in bitter litigation with Fertitta-owned Station Casinos -- recently launched the website UnfitForChildren.org that details some of White's more controversial quotes. More recently, they have pressured some of the UFC's sponsors to pull advertising dollars from the promotion because of their " history of tolerating homophobic conduct that is hostile to millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people all over the world who struggle every day against bigotry and discrimination."
Asked about the recent developments, White argued that they were based in politics more than substance, and said the UFC would gladly welcome a gay fighter.
"Seriously, if you guys look at some of the stuff I said in the last 10 years, some of it stupid, some of it whatever, that's the one that bothers me. It's the only one that bothers me," White said. "The fact that these losers from the culinary union can go out and say I'm a homophobe and things like that, because It's the furthest thing from the truth. I think enough of you here know me that if I was, I'd tell you I was, and I'd tell you why I was. It's not true and it's just something these guys can throw up on a cute little website."
Asked whether he should be better policing anyone in his organization, White said, "I definitely should be policing myself," but noted that he has 375 fighters on his roster and said he could not possibly police every word out of their mouths. A letter to UFC sponsor Anheuser-Busch specifically targeted several recent incidences they termed "anti-gay," that involved Joe Rogan, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Antonio Roridgo Nogueira, Michael Bisping
and White himself.
"I do what I can do for these guys," White said. "You're dealing with human beings. I love when you get these organizations that try to ... I guess I call it the holier-than-thou approach. Really? So when these guys make mistakes and things happen, bad things happen, you want to point the finger and say the whole organization is bad and these are bad people because these are things they've done? F--- you. Guess what? Everybody makes mistakes and everybody does things that are wrong sometimes. Everybody. I don't care who you are, I don't care what you do for a living and what you've done. I don't deal with the holier-than-thou b-------. We do the best we can do."
White said that while a few fighters occasionally step out of line, the vast majority -- "300-something," in his view are inspirational, role- model types to kids and adults.
Though there has never been an openly gay fighter in the UFC, White said there would be no problems for that individual under his watch.
"I'll tell you right now, if there's a gay fighter in the UFC, I wish he would come out," he said. "I could care less if there's a gay fighter in the UFC. There probably is, and there's probably more than one. It's 2012. Give me a break."