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NEW YORK -- In the wake of a public warning from major UFC sponsor Anheuser-Busch regarding athlete behavior, the fight promotion is working to put together a fighter summit that will deal with the topic.
The warning came after some advocacy groups criticized select fighter comments as sexist or homophobic. On Thursday, UFC president Dana White acknowledged the incidents and said that as a realist, he knows sometimes athletes will go too far. And now, he said, it's the promotion's job to help fix the problem.
"Same stuff that all the organizations go through," he said. "NBA, NFL, they all go through the same thing. It’s no different than what they go through, too. It is absolutely something that needs to be addressed by us."
White said the summit was in the works and could happen as soon as one month from now, though he didn't have information on an exact date.
He acknowledged that he's slipped up himself at times, and asked the world for a little patience and also a little calm in passing judgment, noting that some of the incidents in question took place over social media sites like Twitter, where things can often be taken out of context due to brevity.
In his opinion, the avalanche of backlash has sometimes gone too far.
"Stuff is going to happen. Things are going to slip out. It happens," he said. "And I have to deal with it when it happens. I’ve done it. I’m not going to act like Mr. Holier than Thou. I’ve done it myself. You do it. It happens. It’s one of those things you handle after it happens. I’m sure people are going to be offended, but the world needs to calm down a little bit. Everybody takes everything way too serious. Relax."
The UFC is often celebrated for the accessibility of its athletes, and White said that's something he will not change because of the importance in keeping a strong tie between the organization and its fans. Instead, he stressed simple common sense.
"I like being open and honest," he said. "I love having a personal relationship with the fans. I love that our athletes do. That you can actually go on Twitter and talk to people. And I like it to be real. I tell people to f--- off on Twitter all the time. Some people think that’s weird, but if a guy came over to me right now and said, ‘Hey, I think you’re a d------- and I think your organization sucks,' I’m going to go, 'F--- you.' What’s the difference between that and Twitter. If you say stupid s--- to me on Twitter, I’m going to say stupid s--- back to you. Some people have a problem with it and some people don’t. If you have a problem with it, you know what the solution is? Don’t follow me on Twitter. You won’t have to see any of that stuff."
As to how his trademark blunt honesty plays with the UFC's blue-chip advertisers like Anheuser-Busch -- maker of Bud Light -- White says they couldn't have expected anything else.
"Our major sponsors don’t have a problem," he said. "Listen, if you’ve ever watched the sport, you knew what you were getting into with me. It’s not like all of the sudden lost my mind and started saying stupid s---. I’ve been saying it for 11 years, so they knew what they were getting into."
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