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Sorry, Robin Leach: Tito Ortiz, Jenna Jameson and Dana White Story Too Good to Be True


I don't know where former Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach gets the information for his blog, but I wish he'd stop. He's going to give responsible bloggers a bad name.

Leach breathlessly reports on the spat that took place among UFC fighter Tito Ortiz, his girlfriend Jenna Jameson, and UFC President Dana White at the post-UFC 84 press conference Saturday night. Except that Leach wasn't there, and he gets his information wrong.

I was there, and I wouldn't really care that Leach gets his information wrong, but when responsible media outlets like the Los Angeles Times then repeat that information, I feel the need to offer a correction.

Leach writes:
Four Vegas Metro police officers were called to keep Tito and UFC president Dana White apart.
Yes, there were police officers in the room. They were there as security, just as every big sporting event has police officers on hand for security purposes. (I saw police officers at the Super Bowl, too, and it would be only slightly more ridiculous to suggest that they were there to keep Roger Goodell and Bill Belichick from coming to blows.) For the record: The cops didn't need to keep Ortiz and White apart. Although Ortiz and White argued, they never came close to any type of physical confrontation, and at one point, when a reporter specifically asked if they had thought about settling their differences with a fight, they both brushed off the question as ridiculous.

But Leach wasn't done stirring things up:
When [Ortiz] started answering questions UFC media executives told him he had to leave. Jenna ordered him to stay. "It was total chaos and bedlam," said one spywitness.
No, UFC officials didn't tell Ortiz he had to leave. It's right here on tape, Robin. A UFC official told reporters to wait until the press conference started, and specifically added, "He's going to be here for his part of the press conference." As a reporter who was there to ask Ortiz questions, I found it annoying that I had to wait, but I didn't doubt that I would get to ask my questions, I didn't find it to be "chaos and bedlam," and I didn't hear Jameson "order" Ortiz to do anything. This interview I conducted with Jameson came just moments after the UFC official cut off the reporters' questions. Does it look or sound like there's chaos and bedlam going on around us?

Now Leach begins speculating about the future of MMA:
Will Tito join a rival Mixed Martial Arts league or retire and how will White take on his more bitter rivals in the XC Extreme Sports league that starts its CBS TV network coverage next Saturday night from Newark, New Jersey. If a ratings success I am reliably told three further fights would be broadcast live from Vegas.
There are so many problems with the above that I'm not sure where to start, so I'll just point out that there's no such thing as "the XC Extreme Sports league." There is an MMA organization called EliteXC that has a CBS TV card on Saturday night. As for Leach's claim that he is "reliably told" about three more fights, I wonder who his reliable source is. Could it have been the press release in which CBS and EliteXC announced that their partnership would cover four shows?
"This was almost a case of a better fight outside the ring than in it," I was told.
Well, you were told wrong, Robin. Again, Ortiz and White never even remotely came close to fighting each other, and if they had, it would obviously have been nowhere near as good a fight as anything we saw in the Octagon that night.

I don't really care about Robin Leach, but I do care about the way the media portray the sport of mixed martial arts, and I find it fascinating that the Los Angeles Times would repeat, unquestioningly, many of Leach's claims. So many members of the mainstream media operate from the assumption that MMA is nothing but pure no-holds-barred savagery that they don't even think to verify any outlandish claims that are made about the sport.

I note that the Los Angeles Times has now updated its original blog post with a quote from an MGM Grand spokesperson saying, "there was NO incident at all." I have a feeling that if this story revolved around any other sport, the Times would have asked the spokesperson for confirmation before running with the story.