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Better Late Than Never: Responding to the Dana White/Loretta Hunt Controversy

Noticeably absent from this website was coverage in regards to UFC President Dana White’s controversial video blog response to an article by Sherdog.com’s Loretta Hunt in which Hunt reported that the UFC was eliminating specific passes for managers and agents.

The reason why I neglected to address this issue on FiveOuncesOfPain.com is not because I was trying to dodge this issue. The reality is that the economy has hit me pretty hard and I’ve had to divert my attention to other projects. I don’t live with my parents and don’t have roommates. I am all “growed up” with a wife, a nine-year old, three dogs, and a mortgage. This site is important to me and isn’t going to fade away anytime soon (by the way, we set yet another site record for unique and individual page views in the month of March) but providing for my family will always be my number one priority in life.

One of the new projects I am working on is MMA-related is fairly substantial. I will be revealing that news to the readers of this site within the next few weeks.

The reality is that this is a delicate story and not one that I could cut corners with. I didn’t want to say my piece until I had the right amount needed to tackle this topic. I know I am late to the party, but better late than never?

First off, White’s use of a homophobic slur is indefensible. I don’t profess to know Dana on a personal level, but I don’t believe he meant it in a hateful manner. That being said, there are plenty of other salty terms he could have and should have used to convey his disgust at the sources who were only willing to go on the record in an anonymous fashion.

A lot has been said about Dana speaking the way everyone speaks in their regular, normal lives. Well, Dana no longer lives a regular, normal life. Plus, not everyone uses homophobic slurs in their day-to-day conversations. Do I speak the same way publicly as I do privately? Absolutely not. But even in private I don’t use homophobic slurs. If a large group of people beings are telling me that a single word offends them, I have enough respect for the human race to erase that word from my vocabulary and find a new one.

This is an issue that goes beyond context as well. If Dana said he didn’t mean in that way, I’ll take his word for it. But what about people who defend their use of the “n” word or the use of the swastika because of what it’s original definition was?

To me, the intent is irrelevant because we all know what those words and that symbol represent. If Dana didn’t mean to use that slur in that context, he should work on saying what he really means. You’re telling me I can’t use the “n” word? Not a problem. I have no use for it anyway. Just like I have no use for the “f” word. For me, I refrain from using these slurs not because it’s the P.C. thing to do or because I feel a need to conform, but because I believe discrimination and hate speech is wrong.

But let’s be real here, the outcry regarding Dana’s use of the word was a total overreaction. It’s not the first time he’s used the “f” word publicly. I seem to recall an interview prior to UFC 69 in Ohio on Sirius Satellite Radio when he used that term on “The Scott Ferrall Show” in reference to Jerry Millen. What about when he called Jared Shaw a “retard” in a video blog? Where was the outrage in those instances?

The reality is that a lot of people are jealous of Dana White and or have a personal agenda against him. Some of the criticism I have read is valid but a lot of it also reads as people simply sitting in the bushes waiting for their opportunity to pounce. White’s biggest mistake in all of this could be perhaps that he and the UFC sometimes make it too easy for the haters at times. Unless you just recently started watching MMA, you know the history of bad blood that exists between Sherdog and the UFC.

But nobody is above reproach and some of the criticism Sherdog has received in this instance is valid. Some of it is not, most notably a recent article written by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.

I was taught that criticizing a contemporary in public was uncouth but considering all the negative things said about me by colleagues both publicly and privately since I’ve entered this industry, I don’t see a need to bite my tongue.

Iole has taken many lumps over the last couple of years and I have felt much of it was unfair. Whenever you submit work that can be reviewed by the public, you better be ready to take on criticism. Iole has taken his fair share and has acted professionally throughout. Where I have an issue is with those who hide behind the safety of a computer and make personal attacks against him. It also needs to be pointed out that Iole in no way defended White’s behavior.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I’ve got to call it like I see it and I think some of Iole’s comments in his article on the piece were just plain unfair.

For example:

“Clearly, she should never have written a story such as she did without having one source on the record.”

A few points of clarification; Hunt’s article did use anonymous sources but she also quoted people such as Ken Pavia and Monte Cox in the story. Even if she had used anonymous sources on an exclusive basis, it still shouldn’t have been an issue. Woodward and Bernstein didn’t reveal the identity of “Deep Throat.” Matt Drudge didn’t name a source for the Monica Lewinsky story. The reporting of both stories proved to be fairly accurate.

Furthermore, when Iole reported his story on Randy Couture’s UFC salary, the crux of his story was built around a lone anonymous source. When Iole received criticism he asked people to trust him. I am willing to take Iole at his word that he had a valid source. Why doesn’t he have the same trust for Loretta Hunt?

If Hunt was some greenhorn reporter and used all-anonymous sources, then it would be an issue. But while I was a fan of MMA back in 2001, Loretta Hunt was just beginning her career as an MMA writer/reporter. If she’s not a proven commodity in the field of MMA reporting, then who is? Hunt has covered the sport for a long time and has gone to the events. After close to nine years of covering the sport, it’s not a stretch to believe that sources in the industry are giving her inside info.

For what it’s worth, I can also confirm that the story is pretty much accurate. I was actually contacted two managers about the situation seven weeks ago. I didn’t report the story for two reasons. For one, neither source was willing to go on the record. But that wasn’t a deal killer for me because I’ve done stories with all-anonymous stories in the past and will do so again in the future.

My preference is to quote people but that isn’t always an option. I have been a sports writer since 1993 but have only been covering MMA for a couple of years. However, I’ve broken a few stories and have quoted a few sources in my time. I’ve been backstage at events for promotions large and small. I feel as though I’ve earned some capital in my reporting when it comes to quoting anonymous sources. If you don’t want to acknowledge that I speak with people on the inside on a daily basis, that’s your problem not mine.

But the big reason why I elected not to cover it was because I didn’t think it was overly newsworthy. The fact that White’s reaction has vastly overshadowed the content of Sherdog’s story is something that I feel supports my claim. Managers and agents aren’t being banned from the backstage area. Instead, they are simply no longer being issued backstage passes. A manager or agent can still get backstage if they are issued a general corner pass.

The other statement made by Iole was when he added “And her single attempt to reach a UFC spokesperson is clearly feeble.”

Do we know for sure it was only a single attempt? And even only if it was just one attempt, Hunt met her requirements as a journalist. It’s not her job to stalk sources. The bottom line is that the UFC should have responded to her request.

I understand that Sherdog is persona non grata in the eyes of the UFC but the UFC has to accept the fact that a lot of people still read Sherdog. Whether they respect Loretta Hunt or not, they need to acknowledge that a lot of people do.

When Hunt submitted a request for comment, they should have responded and gotten their side out there. Before Dana let loose on the vitriol, he was making a valid argument. If someone had conveyed some of those points to Sherdog in print, it would have taken a huge edge out of the article. By not getting their side out earlier, the UFC gave Sherdog the ability to report the story in a salacious manner.

Another point I’d like to make is that as I read Iole’s article, I don’t see a single instance in which he mentions that he requested a comment from Sherdog or Hunt in regards to the article he wrote on the subject.

Moving on, the UFC’s decision to eliminate special passes for managers and agents alarmed certain people within the industry because there is a feeling that the company wants to eliminate them from the sport. But that’s only one side of the story and no one as of yet has really been able to get the other side.

Does the UFC really want to drive a wedge between fighters and their managers? I’ve heard a lot of scuttlebutt but I couldn’t tell you for sure. But if the UFC really has designs on doing that, they don’t need to eliminate corner passes for managers and agents to do that. There are plenty more effective ways to try and sabotage those relationships such as buying lavish gifts for fighters or sending them on paid vacations to resort areas in Mexico.

Managers and agents can still get backstage if their fighter issues them a corner pass and even if they can’t get backstage, they can still buy a ticket. In some cases, certain managers and agents are being given free tickets. Having covered the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball in the past, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. Leigh Steinberg isn’t hanging out in the locker room right before kickoff.

Furthermore, I don’t see the need to be paranoid because if a manager/agent truly has a good relationship with their client, the UFC isn’t going to be able to cut back room deals. Remember the post-UFC 96 video blog in which Dana pitched Quinton Jackson a title shot vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 98? The conversation essentially ended with Jackson essentially saying “I need to talk to my manager before I give you my final answer.”

In most cases, fighters must sign deals with their agents that are legally binding. Even if a fighter was able to easily be influenced, an agent/manager is entitled to a percentage of their earnings for the duration of their contract.

I think the real issue for a lot of managers and agents is that their cost of business will increase if they don’t get issued a pass or a complementary ticket. UFC tickets aren’t cheap and a good seat can cost you as much as $500-750 (and in some cases, even more). Unfortunately, buying a cheaper seat isn’t an option. Being a manager and or agent is all about projecting an image of success. If you can project the appearance that you’re making money for yourself, then what reason does an athlete have to believe that you possess the ability to make money for them? It’s a glamour issue and a manager/agent can’t be seen sitting in the cheap seats.

Hopefully, this story will die down and we can get back to talking about fighters and fights. White has issued an apology and apparently changes are going to be made in regards to his media profile. The apology was necessary and just but I’m not sure that taking on a lower profile is the right move.

If Dana White needs to take a step back because he’s burned out and needs to re-charge his batteries, then a lesser media presence is the right move. But if it’s merely in response to the negative P.R., then it’s a bad move. There is no marketing tool in MMA more effective than Dana White. White can pick up a phone and cut a radio interview with Steve Cofield in Vegas or Carmichael Dave in Sacramento and generate more buzz at no cost to the UFC than the IFL, EliteXC, and BodogFIGHT did when it spent millions of dollars on advertising.

The UFC needs Dana to maintain a strong media presence and continue to generate free publicity. Getting rid of the video blogs is a bad idea as well. They are not only very popular but a very cost-efficient marketing tool. Aside from the cost of a shooter and video editor, how much money did the UFC have to put up for videos that were viewed by hundreds of thousands of people? Cutting back in not the solution. Making some minor changes to his vocabulary so not to further offend homosexuals and handicapped people is part of the answer. Not turning on a camera or microphone in the heat of the moment is the other part of it.

White can be loud and brash at times but welcome to the fight game. You need a larger than life personality spearheading your company if you want to make a dent in the pay-per-view market. My hope is that after a month or two adopting a lower profile that Dana gradually returns to the media forefront.

16 COMMENTS
  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    I still want to see someone take Hunt to task for using anonymous source(s) that provided opinion, not fact. That’s a huge no-no in journalism.

  • madiq says:

    Sam, I think it’s far to easy to dismiss the outrage over Dana White’s comments as mere jealousy. The profile of the UFC, and Dana White, has increased greatly since UFC 69, and if Zuffa has aspirations of putting UFC on par with the NBA, NFL, or NHL, it needs to be mindful of the collective climate of professionalism and sensitivity.

    Furthermore, I think that while the gay slur is the lightning rod, I think that modern professional sports doesn’t really have a positive opinion of sexism and bullying of female journalists. In particular, a sport often criticized as barbaric, brutish, and low-class needs to be mindful that misogyny, homophobia, and bullying behavior isn’t projected as a lasting image that the sport projects towards the mainstream. Athletes can be criticized for being boorish, intimidating or violent towards women, but executives are held to a higher standard. If any high-ranking sports executive directed the kind of diatribe at a female reporter in a public setting, the repercussions would be swift and decisive.

    In addition, the consequences of being a Big Boy Sport is that media coverage extends to more than just “fighters and fights.” Whether bloggers, fans, and Zuffa like it or not, things like a company’s financial state, labor disputes, legal issues, and business relationships are part of the coverage of a sport. Billions are being generated, and with the increased money comes higher stakes. Fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans are getting in bed with blue-chip sponsors like Gatorade and Microsoft, and the UFC is trying to be the exclusive negotiator of sponsorships with fighters. An incident like this adversely affects the UFC brand, and with it, the GSP and Rashad Evans brands. Furthermore, when a company is scared of being associated with the UFC because of Dana White’s personality, serious questions SHOULD be raised by the MMA media about whether his should be the public face of a sport that wants a seat at the Mainstream table.

    And I agree that ending the Video Blogs, and pulling back Dana White’s media profile is the wrong move. If anything, it suggests that the “casual Dana” of his vlogs and potential reality show might be undeterred and unmoved, and might still lack the capacity to filter the hateful invective. And yet, the fact that so many fans defend it as “the way people talk in real life” is a little bit disheartening, in that it validates a lot of the perceptions of the kind of people who watch “ultimate fighting.” I don’t want to be lumped in with those people, and I don’t want the sport that I’ve grown to love get marginalized because the fanbase considers misogyny, homophobia, and bullying to be worthy of praise and accolades.

  • KTru says:

    Solid read Sam

    However please understand that I am not bashing you or the site for content. It was my choice to come and read exclusives and share opinions. My only complaint was that I cannot come here and exchange points and views with others that respond here. I rather discuss topics of MMA related news at 5 ounces then any other outlet. However, it is quite difficult when no recap or analysis is reported on.
    I understand your family is job one, as should be for all of us. But with contributers and other reporters that come through this site on a daily or weekly basis, I do not think I am wrong for asking why.
    It is not that I show any disdain, but come to respectfully ask why not?

    Thank you

    As for the article……

    Dana will have to come to a time and place where he accepts the media as an ally and quit shoving people away. (literally and figuratively) He is not perfect and maybe he will. Media credentials may boost even more positive press and grow his company and the sport of MMA. It seems to me that since he worked numerous hours building this empire, he has trust issues with anyone that may try to help or have their own opinion.

    Now with the situation with Hunt, we can all say he does not have issues with the gay community. But since he is a public figure, you are held in a different standard than the regular Joe. He is not polished, he is raw and says what he feels. Nothing wrong with that, because I think we can all appreciate that side of him. But when you use such hurtful and derogatory words, especially against a media outlet, it will be accelerated two-fold.

    I have said in the past and reiterate it again. I like Dana and what he has done for the sport. Maybe some sensitivity classes would do some good, and PR has possibly suggested it. Then we all can let it rest.

  • mo dogg says:

    Sam, real nice article. I think all your main points are right on, and this thing should fade away. In the long run, i think Dana will not be hurt by this, but Sherdog may be if they try to drag it out. I will miss Dana’s video blogs (some were just dumb, but i found myself watching it every time), and hopefuly they aren’t gone for too long. My guess is he takes a break for a bit, and may bring it back for UFC 100 to help promote the event.

    nice article though. i’m glad you pointed out that some articles being written really are using it for more of self-promotion, etc.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Should Dana say politically incorrect things? Probably not, but let’s keep some perspective. Any professional sport is populated by intense, competitive personalities who are more likely than most to blurt out controversial statements. I don’t think you can extract that without destroying the competitor. The most you can do is train them to be discrete.

    Personally I’m not bothered by the occasional outburst. That kind of grit keeps the sport interesting. I can get all the slick corporate speak I need at my workplace or from the Bolsheviks running the country right now. I’d rather dialogue with somebody who is honest but raw rather than somebody who is polished and two faced.

    People in general should calm down. Handwringing and angst over every awkward statement is neurotic and pointless.

  • Stan says:

    I was pretty pleased that 5oz hadn’t delved into this particular story but understand the lure of such open vitriol is hard to resist. It’s really a brutal shame that more media coverage is about how Dana White may use dirty words than was dedicated to a very decent card at UFN 18.

    I like Iole, and didn’t even dislike his column about this, but he apparently chose not to cover an actual MMA event when he could crap out a piece about dirty words. I’m sure its a lot easier to pinch off a 1000 word nugget about how awful it is to use dirty words in public than it is to actually research fighters and matchups and where fighters stand in light of results after the fights.

    Dana White is not a nice guy. Can we get back to talking about fighting?

  • AlwaysRelaxing24 says:

    Very good article.

    As for Loretta Hunt, she seems useless. Never seen her do a good interview. Her articles are very good. The article in question is no different.

    I haven’t heard many people say good things about her once they have seen her track record.

  • broncos12405 says:

    Nobody is making a big deal that he also called this guy a pussy. Not to mention he called hunt a stupid bitch. No everybody only is upset because he used the word faggot. So u want him to apologize for saying one word because It’s a slur on the gay community, but not for the fact he called somebody a stupid bitch or a pussy. This just shows u how retarded this whole thing is. Dana shouldn’t have apologized to anybody. People need to stop making a big deal about this and grow a pair

  • Cathedron says:

    I’m not even going to get into all the problems I found with the article in question the first time I read it. But I don’t even get what the fuss is all about. Dana’s had far, far bigger blowups than this and said far, far worse about other people. Hell, he’s called people “faggots” several times in several different vlogs. No one noticed?

    I don’t think this had anything to do with the gay slur, it’s just that all the attention drawn to it attracted the attention of GLAAD (especially if, say, Sherdog were to contact them and point it out – hypothetically, of course). No, I really think this comes down to some people still viewing women as inferior creatures that need protecting by men.

    When Dana goes off on a male journalist (which is often), no one seems to get too worked up. He goes off on a female journalist and all the overprotective men get into an uproar and the story gets all out of proportion. That’s pathetic.

  • GetItOn says:

    broncos12405 said “This just shows u how retarded this whole thing is.”

    I love how you threw that in there. Over at bloody elbow there sure is a buzz about Loretta Hunt being called a “stupid bitch”. I agreed with Dana White on that issue and I got banned from the website. Really nice. This just goes to show that people need to think before they speak and especially before they make a story or video public. This goes for Dana White and Loretta Hunt. Unfortunately we do have the freedom of speech but not without hurting someone, somewhere.

  • madiq says:

    @Cathedron

    You know what else is based on people “still viewing women as inferior creatures that need protecting by men?” The outrage over what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. I mean, guys beat up guys all the time (hell, I pay money to see it happen every month), but a chick gets ONE black eye, and all of a sudden, everyone gets all protective over her.

    Hey, if you guys want to go around calling women “dumb bitches” in professional settings, more power to you. It surely won’t have any adverse consequences for you or your company. Neither would it have adverse consequences in your personal life if you called the various females in your life — mother, wife, sister — “dumb bitches” either. People need to be less sensitive, right? Poppycock.

    Fact is, we know what flies in the Real World, and people only put up with disrespect if they’re intimidated into doing so. That’s how bullies operate, and if you condone bullying, then a karmic reward is neither surprising nor undeserved.

    And I REALLY wish that people understood what “Freedom of Speech” means. It’s freedom from GOVERNMENT proscriptions on what you say, and adverse consequences BY THE GOVERNMENT on the viewpoints you express. It’s why the Ku Klux Klan has the right to espouse their views in the public square. But if you run a television network, and one of your anchors decides to launch into a stream of obscenities aimed at women, Jews, Blacks, Latinos, and Gays, your network has full power to fire the guy, or give him a raise. And the news media could publicize the anchor being rewarded despite being a bigot (First Amendment also applies to the press), with the only legal recourse being a libel suit. Of course, an expletive and epithet-laden diatribe directed at that reporter might be seen as unprofessional and counterproductive, but it would be fully within the your rights as well.

    In the end, it’s a marketplace of ideas. Nobody is trying to silence Dana White, but if his words start to do more harm than good for his company, he might consider shutting the [email protected]&k up.

  • GetItOn says:

    I understand how Freedom Of Speech works. I didn’t give any reason for anyone to question that but if you want to come in here and school others who may be less fortunate in that area of expertise then please go ahead. Dana White has every right to say what he said under Freedom Of Speech . Now whether or not his company decides to punish him for it has nothing to do with Freedom Of Speech under government. Obviously if Dana White had to resign or relinquish his share holdings in the UFC then Freedom Of Speech did not protect him. ; )

  • Cathedron says:

    @ madiq

    Quit being a self-righteous moron. You’re comparing athletes who are each capable of defending themselves to civilian assault and battery? It’s not OK to give anyone a black eye outside of a sanctioned cage or ring. Comparing domestic abuse to Dana’s little verbal tirade is idiotic. Loretta’s perfectly capable of defending herself against Dana White in a war of words. She’s got a little bit of an advantage being a writer and all. You all act like she’s helpless. Why? Because she’s a woman. Why don’t these idiots ever defend the numerous MEN that Dana bullies with the same kind of fervor? That’s my point. It’s hypocritical.

  • madiq says:

    It may be a double standard, but it’s far from hypocritical. I can guarantee that if Dana attacked Josh Gross using a slur designed to attack Jewish people, there would be negative consequences. If he attacked Franklin McNeil using a slur designed to attack black people, there would be negative consequences. And if he attacked a PARTICULAR gay person, using the “F-word,” this controversy wouldn’t have gone away.

    But I don’t know if you follow other sports or not, so I’ll explain that women who cover sports have to put up with sexism all the time, and they accept it as part and parcel of the male-dominated locker room environment. But when an executive calls a female reporter a “dumb fucking bitch” it crosses a line into misogyny, and interferes with the respect that is necessary for a journalist to do her job responsibly.

    Yes, you’re right, it’s ALL unprofessional, and since there’s no interest group for white males, there tends not to be a group to organize around outrage when Dana attacks one of them. But at the same time, a female MMA writer, like a female MMA fighter, stands out, and is struggling to be taken seriously by her peers, and when the head of the largest MMA organization in the world is calling her a “bitch” for deigning to write a column that isn’t flattering to his organization, it undermines that struggle. And in that instance, people for whom sex equality is a priority shouldn’t turn a blind eye.

    And THIS is where I draw my analogy. If you are walking down the street, and you see one dude punch another dude in the face, you might think it’s wrong, an overreaction to all but the most extreme provocation. But you will probably not intervene. However, if you see a dude punch a woman in the face, you’ll intervene, perhaps because of the paternalistic double standard, but in any event, because society doesn’t accept attacks by men against women on equal terms. Verbal abuse might be thought of differently than physical abuse, but societal perceptions are closer than you may think.

    If Dana White was a woman named…umm…Dana White, running a major corporation, and if she had a problem with a male journalist, and called him a “faggot,” there would be controversy. She’d likely lose her job. But she might get away with calling a female reporter a “bitch.” However, THIS Dana White runs an organization that is frequently derided for brutality and violence. He should be acutely aware that, by carrying himself with the swagger of a fighter, he does more damage to the perception of his organization than if say Rampage Jackson got into a public verbal confrontation with Loretta Hunt, and referred to her as a “fucking bitch.” (And I’m sure that UFC would be under public pressure to discipline Jackson.) How can the organization distance itself from an individual that has worked so hard to be the public face of that organization?

    And again, I’m going to call bullshit, because I’ll assume you were around during the Jon Fitch fiasco, when there seemed to be quite the groundswell in support of Fitch’s assertion that Dana bullies, and the negative views around Dana’s profanity-laced tirade against AKA’s management. Again, I recognize that the response is magnified because he was attacking a woman rather than a trained fighter and his representative, but that’s a question of context.

    So on the contrary, I may be high on my own self-righteousness, but I’m no moron. I would just prefer that professionals deal with each other as professionals, and not like petulant children. I think what when you have a responsibility to a roster of business partners, fighters and employees for their livelihoods, that you should curtail your public persona, so that it does not adversely affect your company, not to mention the fanbase who you claim to cater to. And as fans, I think that we should be self-policing from within, so that we aren’t judged from without. It’s telling that Dana didn’t see fit to apologize for insensitivity until GLAAD got involved. And even more telling that so many fans gave Dana dap for “keeping it real.” I can’t support that, I can’t condone that, and if it makes me look like a self-righteous blowhard, I’ll accept that, rather than look like a misogynistic, hateful Neanderthal.

  • griffith9 says:

    Mr.Caplan.. just what the hell are you talking about? Nobody gives a damn about Dana mouthing off on people. He does it each and every day and now he’s made some fans and enemies because of that. That’s cool.

    It baffles me as to why you “chose” to address this issue and waste your time writing about childish, silly things like “everyone’s jealous of Dana” crap.
    Who cares?

    The whole controversy was about UFC trying to screw managers, not Dana calling people gay.

    If you wanted to say your piece on this, Why didn’t you say something about the actual news story?(UFC vs manager controversy) Do you have a huge man crush on Dana or what..?
    you freakin’ wrote a whole essay on Dana’s character like.. what’s that have to do with anything?
    who cares? He already apologized it’s in the book. It was flavour of the day. Everyone’s moved on. Nobody’s overreacting. It’s only the internet.

    You say you’ve no time yet.. you waste your time and viewers’ time writing an essay on some meaningless crap. You’re missing the point.

  • Cindy says:

    Sammy, Sammy, Sammy…

    I guess I should begin at the beginning:

    Better Late Than Never: Responding to the Dana White/Loretta Hunt Controversy
    April 4, 2009 by Sam Caplan

    Sam: For what it’s worth, I can also confirm that the story is pretty much accurate. I was actually contacted two managers about the situation seven weeks ago. I didn’t report the story for two reasons. For one, neither source was willing to go on the record.

    AND:

    Sam: But the big reason why I elected not to cover it was because I didn’t think it was overly newsworthy.

    Cindy: Wait… you’re backing the accuracy of this story (even though you haven’t researched the facts to know if the accusations are true) because 2 mgrs contacted you 7 weeks ago for some off-the-record gossip??? Really?

    Sam: Managers and agents aren’t being banned from the backstage area. Instead, they are simply no longer being issued backstage passes. A manager or agent can still get backstage if they are issued a general corner pass.

    Cindy: Zuffa has never had a policy — in any way, shape or form — to credential managers/agents for backstage access. There has NEVER been a “manager’s pass.” My sources are DW, Donna Marcolini, Burt Watson – and yours???

    Sam: The other statement made by Iole was when he added “And her single attempt to reach a UFC spokesperson is clearly feeble.” Do we know for sure it was only a single attempt? And even only if it was just one attempt, Hunt met her requirements as a journalist. It’s not her job to stalk sources. “

    Cindy: Yes, Iole KNEW it was a single attempt when he reported it. How? From Loretta… in the article she wrote that Iole referenced that you apparently have not read:

    http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/some-managers-agents-lose-backstage-pass-16813

    “Zuffa’s public relations department did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment on the promotion’s sudden shift in policy after eight years”

    But check THIS out:

    http://www.sherdog.com/news/news/a-statement-on-dana-whites-remarks-16853 (from second article/Sherdog’s statement):

    “Sherdog.com sought comment from multiple UFC representatives and gave them more than three full days to respond. The company chose not to respond prior to the report’s publication and instead issued White’s video blog several hours afterward.”

    And THIS:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/boxing/story/9414092/UFC's-White-apologizes-for-rant's-gay-slur (from Loretta’s interview with FOX):

    “Hunt told FOXSports.com she made “every attempt to reach Zuffa” before writing the story. “I clearly stated to them what the article would be about but they didn’t respond. I did my best trying to present both sides of the story.”

    Cindy: Hmmmm… so which is it? “An e-mail to Zuffa’s PR department (Jennifer Wenk—who has ZERO to do with credentialing), “multiple UFC reps,” or “every attempt?”

    Sam: The bottom line is that the UFC should have responded to her request. I understand that Sherdog is persona non grata in the eyes of the UFC but the UFC has to accept the fact that a lot of people still read Sherdog.

    Cindy: Elias (Inside Fighting) and I both interviewed Donna Marcolini (separately), Vice President of Event Operations, about Loretta’s contact claims.

    This is what she had to say:

    (Donna) “Loretta knows me, has my cell phone number, e-mail address, as well as office number… and never ONCE did she bother trying to contact me. NOT ONCE– and Loretta is well aware that I am the person that handles ALL of this. Whether people like me or not, or have never met me in the UFC organization…everyone still knows of my name and what my job is.”

    Cindy: So Sam… THAT’S the bottom line, IMO of course.

    Sam: Whether they respect Loretta Hunt or not, they need to acknowledge that a lot of people do.

    Cindy: They don’t respect her (and I think it is safe to say she feels the same way about Zuffa management) but they still realize a lot of people do. What does that have to do with the fact Loretta (allegedly) didn’t call the person she KNOWS is in charge of credentialing (according to Donna)?

    Sam: When Hunt submitted a request for comment, they should have responded and gotten their side out there. Before Dana let loose on the vitriol, he was making a valid argument. If someone had conveyed some of those points to Sherdog in print, it would have taken a huge edge out of the article.

    Cindy: In a matter of two days Loretta gave 3 different versions of contact attempts. I hope she has/saved proof of these claims because I have a sneaking suspicion she will be asked to validate her reported efforts – since she stated them on-the-record. And Donna WOULD have spoken to Loretta, had she been given the opportunity.

    Sam: By not getting their side out earlier, the UFC gave Sherdog the ability to report the story in a salacious manner.

    Cindy: So you agree the manner of her presentation was over the top/juicy/mouth-watering instead of remaining professional, neutral and balanced throughout? Cool… I got the same impression;)

    Sam: Another point I’d like to make is that as I read Iole’s article, I don’t see a single instance in which he mentions that he requested a comment from Sherdog or Hunt in regards to the article he wrote on the subject.

    Cindy: Another point I would like to make is that the only manager/agent willing to speak OTR about the “Zuffa DENIES managers backstage access” claim was Ken Pavia and he has since denied (in writing on the UG as well as PM’s to me) having stated what she claimed he did. Thoughts? Comments?

    Sam: Moving on, the UFC’s decision to eliminate special passes for managers and agents alarmed certain people within the industry because there is a feeling that the company wants to eliminate them from the sport. But that’s only one side of the story and no one as of yet has really been able to get the other side.

    Cindy: What is your source that Zuffa had a policy of issuing “special passes for managers and agents” and made a recent decision to eliminate them? DW absolutely and immediately did give Zuffa’s side of the story in the vlog. Each fighter can credential 3 “seconds” and if he wants his manager in the back he can give him one and there’s not a dayum thing Zuffa can do about it (nor do they care) because that’s AC territory. DW said that, too.

    Sam: But if the UFC really has designs on doing that, they don’t need to eliminate corner passes for managers and agents to do that.

    Cindy: Zuffa COULDN’T eliminate corner passes for mgrs/agents if they wanted to because it is the SAC’s policy that fighters are entitled to 3 corner credentials (4 if it is a main event/title fight) NOT Zuffa’s. The fighters decide who will get them and Zuffa has zero input in their decision.

    Sam: Managers and agents can still get backstage if their fighter issues them a corner pass and even if they can’t get backstage, they can still buy a ticket. In some cases, certain managers and agents are being given free tickets.

    Cindy: You don’t know how that works, either? Zuffa gives EVERY fighter 4 event tickets (some more, depending on their contract). The fighter, in most cases, gives these to their families and friends to watch the event (pretty decent seats typically in the same section DW and Lorenzo put their friends and families – not immediate family members, of course). The fighter receives these tickets at the weigh-in and he is more than welcome to give one to his manager IF he wants to. Depending on the venue, Zuffa then goes above and beyond and provides each fighter and cornemen 4 more tickets as a courtesy once that fighter is done fighting, which now allows that fighter and his trainers back into the arena to watch the remaining bouts. Those tickets are distributed backstage once the doctors and inspectors clear the fighter.

    Sam: I think the real issue for a lot of managers and agents is that their cost of business will increase if they don’t get issued a pass or a complementary ticket. UFC tickets aren’t cheap and a good seat can cost you as much as $500-750 (and in some cases, even more). Unfortunately, buying a cheaper seat isn’t an option. Being a manager and or agent is all about projecting an image of success. If you can project the appearance that you’re making money for yourself, then what reason does an athlete have to believe that you possess the ability to make money for them? It’s a glamour issue and a manager/agent can’t be seen sitting in the cheap seats.

    Cindy: LOL! If you thought that is/was the REAL issue for a lot of managers – and now you know it’s NOT – what are your thoughts?

    Cindy: Sammy, you know I love you to death but WTF??? “Better Late Than Never?” No… because commenting on something you know very little about because you haven’t bothered to research it is NOT a good thing because your readers don’t know the difference. This is a news site and as far as they know you give them news.

    Zuffa didn’t change some policy and suddenly start denying managers/agents backstage credentials because they do NOT have such a policy (written or unwritten). If a mgr wasn’t one of the fighter’s credentialed “seconds” but still needed to go backstage for a specific reason (not to hang out), Donna would (occasionally and on a case-by-case basis) let them borrow one of Zuffa’s green “promoter” passes/credential because she’s nice and tries to be accommodating. It was not a standard practice- it was a kind gesture/favor that she NEVER had to do.

    What changed in January was the method of credentialing (authorized) corners/seconds. Some managers were caught swapping their credential (lanyard style) with folks in the audience (in the seats Zuffa GAVE them for their friends and families) which allowed them to gain UNAUTHORIZED backstage access. They would simply take the credential off (around neck) and sit in the seat of the person they allowed to use it. When that person came back out, he would give it to someone else and then sit in their seat. The mgrs caught were warned but the practice continued – event to event, with other managers and it was causing chaos. Donna fixed their asses when she changed the credentialing procedure from a removable lanyard to a sticky colored wristband they affix on the corners/seconds themselves.

    This new system didn’t cut down on the unauthorized access occurrences – it eliminated them. Now there is zero doubt who is credentialed to be back there and who is not. It is the promoters prerogative whether or not they want to issue credentials to anyone above and beyond what the AC’s requires and they choose NOT to because it isn’t necessary for a mgr to be in a locker room on fight night. If a mgr wants to cheat a fighter out of a trainer in order to have his mgr come and hang out they are more than welcome to do so. The AC’s support the idea that mgrs/agents do not NEED to be back there – if they felt differently they would make it a commission policy. Zuffa concurs.

    Check Inside Fighting later today to read Elias’ Q and A with Donna to learn more about this, if you’re interested. I’m not proofing this so excuse any typos?

    Cindy

    It is my hope that you will try to set the record straight and report the findings to your readers. Will you forward me the link if you do? You have my e-mail address. Thanks.

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