Dana White knows all about the chaos that comes with arranging for free seats at an event.
The UFC president has been on both sides of the equation and recently recounted a miserable experience he had trying to be in attendance for a Ronda Rousey match at WrestleMania. (White did not clarify which WrestleMania he was talking about.) Former WWE boss Vince McMahon — who announced his retirement this past week amid allegations of sexual misconduct allegations — was cageside for UFC 276 in Las Vegas on July 2 and White says he treated McMahon with a lot more respect than he was given.
“They reached out to me and said that he wanted to come to the fight,” White said this week following the season premiere of the Contender Series. “I gave him much better seats than he gave me when I went to see Ronda. That dude had me in the f****** — I’m not even s******* you. First of all, Ronda says, ‘You have to be at this event. I want you to be there,’ and all this stuff. I said, ‘Ronda, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’ She’s like, ‘Alright, I’m going to let you know you’re coming. Cool, cool.’
“I fly down to f****** New Orleans. No going in the back and any of that s***, [they said] ‘They’re at the will call window for you.’ I go to the f****** will call window and [they said], ‘We don’t have any tickets for you.’ I call some people, ‘Yeah, we found them. OK, we’ve got your tickets.’ When I tell you I was in the f****** rafters … people were coming up to me and going, ‘Why are you sitting in these seats?’ I said, ‘This is where they sat me, so f*** them I’m going to sit right here.’
“I think it was Pat McAfee today, he said, ‘You had to be in decent seats. You were on camera.’ The cameraman had to f****** crawl over about 75 people, kick somebody out of his f****** seat three rows ahead of me so he could just get that shot. They let me know what they thought of me at that event.”
White’s team regularly hands out front row tickets to fighters and other special guests, so when he was sent up to the nosebleeds for WrestleMania, he’s confident it was no accident.
“When you run an event like you run and you have people that you know that are coming that you give a s*** about or respect, you make sure that they are f****** taken care of,” White said. “So when you show up to an event like that — and this is what I do, this is what I do for a living for the last f****** 23 years — message received. You know what I mean?
“And there’s no hard feelings, I get it. Vince is like that and that’s the way he is. I sat in my f****** seats and I watched the whole event and then we left.”
After telling the story, White was asked about a recent situation in which Team Alpha Male head coach Urijah Faber went to bat for his fighter Josh Emmett over what he perceived to be disrespectful treatment of the featherweight contender. Faber said it was “really bulls***” that Emmett wasn’t seated cageside for featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s recent title defense against Max Holloway at UFC 276.
White explained that it was simply a misunderstanding on Emmett’s part related to a sponsor also supplying him with tickets.
“First of all, Uriah Faber was not up to speed with what happened at that event,” White said. “So all these fighters get tickets. How many fighters have you heard, ‘Oh my God, they f****** put me up in the f******, they did this and that?’ You never hear that. You know why? Because it never f****** happens. I’m not saying we’re f****** perfect because we’re not, we make mistakes here and there.
“What happened was Josh Emmett gets his fighter tickets from us. He also got tickets from his sponsor. He took his tickets from his sponsor, not the tickets from us. That’s where his sponsor seats were.”
White’s explanation is corroborated by a recent interview Emmett did with MyMMANews in which he discussed the mix-up.
“There was just miscommunication,” Emmett said. “The UFC actually had cageside tickets for me. I did an appearance with one of my sponsors and they had tickets for me as well and they kind of wanted me to sit in the section with them and I didn’t know that.”
White made it clear that despite his awkward WrestleMania experience, he greatly respects McMahon, who was in charge of the WWE for 40 years. Though the two promotional juggernauts have occasionally been at odds with one another, White praised McMahon’s work.
“What that guy built and what he’s done is incredible,” White said. “He’s been doing it for 50-plus years. I watched that stuff as a kid and then to still be here doing it now, he’s phenomenal. He’s a killer. He’s buried the hatchet in my back a few times, but that’s what you’re dealing with. You don’t deal with a killer and not expect him to try to kill you. I’ve got nothing but respect for Vince though.”