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Morning Report: Dana White on the Stephen A. Smith controversy: ‘When a guy loses, we don’t go in and rip them apart. It’s just not our style’

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Dana White
Dana White
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last month, Conor McGregor returned to fighting at UFC 246, stopping Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds. And while usually McGregor’s return to the cage and his subsequent callouts would be the biggest story in the sport, instead it’s been another person’s work on the mic that has captivated the MMA world: ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith.

In the immediate aftermath of UFC 246, Smith blasted Cerrone for his performance, saying he was “quite disgusted” with the fight suggesting that Cowboy quit. Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan later responded to Smith’s comments on his podcast, saying they were a bad look for the sport and that Smith’s brand of personal pot-stirring had no place in MMA. But things didn’t stop there.

Smith doubled down on his comments, Conor McGregor got involved, defending Cowboy and demanding an apology. Smith came back at McGregor, tripling down on his stance. Rogan jumped in again, sticking to his guns. Then Nate Diaz, never missing an opportunity to set himself in opposition to McGregor, came to defend Smith, saying McGregor and Rogan were the ones in the wrong. It was all very high school lunchroom drama. And now . the principle has finally weighed in.

Speaking recently with MMAJunkie, UFC President Dana White gave his assessment of the simmering Stephen A. Smith-Joe Rogan spat, saying that Smith’s denigration of a fighter after a loss is not something he supports.

“I didn’t hear [Smith’s comments]. I didn’t hear what he said,” White said. “I know that there was some stuff going back and forth which is gonna happen. One of the things when we bought and built the UFC that we always did, being fight fans ourselves - I’m a huge fight fan, Lorenzo [Fertitta] was a huge fight fan, Joe Rogan is a huge fight fan - and one of the things that we hated was on HBO boxing and some other boxing that they would do, listen, you’re tuning in and buying the pay-per-view because you love these guys and you respect these fighters and you’re a fan of the sport. The last thing you want to do is hear somebody ripping them apart.

“I’m not into it. Rogan’s not into it. You don’t see that in the UFC. There will be times where I’m pissed off at a guy, and I’ll voice my opinion on what he did or whatever – or if a fight is really bad or somebody did something - but what we don’t do is, when a fight is over and a guy loses, we don’t go in and rip them apart. It’s just not our style. We’re fans. We don’t do it. So I think Rogan was reacting to that because that’s our philosophy here.

“For Stephen A. Smith, that’s his thing. That’s what he does. It’s going to happen. You’re always going to have people who have difference in opinions, especially when you have two very opinionated guys like Stephen A. Smith and Joe Rogan.”

Smith and Rogan are two forceful personalities, and with the UFC’s partnership with ESPN only growing, it’s likely Smith will be around more often. Meanwhile, the question that really matters for Dana in all of this is when is the next time Conor McGregor will be around in the UFC?

Since winning the lightweight title in 2016, McGregor has only fought twice in the UFC. This year, McGregor says he’s looking for two more fights, but White wants McGregor to wait for a lightweight title shot later in the year. But McGregor has other plans, namely, a lightweight title shot in two months.

“Conor’s thing right now if he thinks Tony and Khabib isn’t going to happen and he wants to slide into that spot,” White concluded. “So we’ll see how this plays out. He is ready, willing, and able to slide into that spot if it becomes available.”


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VIDEO STEW

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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

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FINAL THOUGHTS

First title fights of the year. Even though they may not be the most competitive matchups, we get to watch two of the most dominant fighters in the world this weekend and that’s great. Enjoy it and see y’all on Monday.


EXIT POLL

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