A former fighter calls UFC president Dana White a ‘bully’ who ‘motivates by fear’

UFC boss Dana White.

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UFC boss Dana White.
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  • Former heavyweight fighter Brendan Schaub, now a popular podcaster and comedian, engaged in an Instagram feud with UFC boss Dana White last week.
  • Schaub then made a lengthy video statement where he called White a “bully.”
  • Schaub said he has the support of fighters in UFC, of staff in UFC, of media members, and of UFC’s most prominent sponsor, Reebok.
  • Schaub added that if White were the head of any other corporation, he would lose his job over the way he behaves.

The most powerful figure in mixed martial arts, UFC president Dana White, took criticism this week from former fighter Brendan Schaub, who believes White rules the business by fear.

White is the president of the biggest cage-fighting firm on the planet. He has overseen UFC from 2001, when the sport was considered “human cockfighting,” to what it has become today – a $4 billion business that has showcased some of the most famous athletes on the planet like Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey.

Schaub is a former heavyweight fighter with a winning UFC record of six wins against five losses. He is now a comedian and hosts a podcast called “Below the Belt.” On Wednesday, Schaub used his program to speak about White’s treatment of other fighters. He criticised the UFC boss for being unsupportive of fighters who “literally have to punch other men in the face to make a living.”

Brendan Schaub (right) last fought in UFC four years ago.

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Brendan Schaub (right) last fought in UFC four years ago.
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The feud started last week after MMA fighter and former kickboxer Israel Adesanya published an Instagram video directed at Schaub over comments Schaub made on his “Below the Belt” podcast about kickboxers moving into MMA. Shaub said he was referring to a different fighter, but White came to Adesanya’s defense nonetheless, calling Schaub a “MORON” and downplaying his ability in the sport.

After the Instagram exchange, Schaub made a longer video statement on “Below the Belt” to address White’s bullying behavior and the way he talks to fighters.

“I’ve been in those guys shoes,” Schaub said. “You’re working your ass off to fight another man in a cage and you’re looking for approval from the head guy who controls your destiny. What match-ups you get, publicity, sponsors, who controls how much success you’re going to have. And you’re looking for any inch of approval. If you walk by that man in the hall and he says, ‘Great job, tonight,’ it goes so far.”

The retired fighter continued: “Why be mean about it? Why be a bully in this day and age?”

Schaub added that if White were the head of any other corporation, he would lose his job over the way he behaves.

“You’re CEO of a billion dollar company and you’re trying to talk s— to somebody who retired four years ago, on social media. Imagine somebody else, a head of a corporation, they’d lose their job.”

He continued by implying that many fighters, media members, and other staff members have taken issue with how White handles the business.

Schaub said: “Name one fighter who has been close to Dana who has never had an issue. There’s a reason after I launched that tweet, that Instagram comment, there’s a reason why I had tons of fighters reach out to me, tons of UFC employees reach out, [UFC’s sponsor] Reebok reached out, media members, why do you think that is?”

“You motivate by fear. It’s not a way to run a business. It’s 2018 – you just can’t do that,” he added.

Business Insider contacted UFC for a response to Schaub’s comments, but is yet to receive a reply.

Ariel Helwani

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This is not the first time a person close to UFC has had an issue with White.

In 2016, Ariel Helwani, an eight-time MMA Journalist of the Year, was escorted out of a UFC 199 event, had his press credentials revoked, and was slapped with a lifetime ban from UFC because he had reported on the possible return of Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, hours before an official UFC announcement.

Helwani later made a tearful statement about the ordeal on his popular The MMA Hour show, but stood by his decision to report the news. Prominent fighters including former middleweight champion Chris Weidman and current light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Dan Cormier expressed sympathy to Helwani on Twitter. UFC rescinded the ban a few days later but its treatment of a prominent media member left the business with a black eye.

Going back further, White infamously feuded with former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, once claiming he used to be able to “beat the living s— out of Ortiz.”