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08th Jan 2023

Dustin Poirier becomes highest profile UFC star to criticise Dana White about striking his wife

Patrick McCarry

Well said by ‘The Diamond’.

There has been an almost eerie silence from the UFC, broadcasters ESPN and Endeavor, who own and control the promotion, ever since news emerged that Dana White had struck his wife, Anne. Dustin Poirier has said his piece, though.

TMZ ran an exclusive interview with the UFC president himself after they obtained footage of White slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve party in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The footage shows White being struck by his wife before responding with a forceful slap. They pair are then separated.

In his TMZ interview, White said, “I am one of the guys who says there is never, ever an excuse for a guy to put his hands on a woman and now here I am talking about it. This is one of those situations that is horrible. I am embarrassed. We have three kids and since the video popped up, we have shown the kids and we are more focused on our family right now.”

In the days that followed the emergence of the footage, and the Dana White apology, the UFC and Endeavor did not even release an official statement on the matter. Reporters were referred back to the TMZ interview for White’s own comments.

Andy Nesbitt of USA Today branded the UFC and its owners as “disgusting”, due to their prolonged silence. The outlet has emailed for a comment every day since the Dana White footage surfaced but have been met with ‘no comment’ on each occasion.

Leading MMA reporters Luke Thomas and Ariel Helwani has spoken well on the matter, on their shows and in television and radio appearances, but mainstream sports coverage in the USA has seemingly moved on already. The lack of any feet being held close to the flame prompted this fair observation from NBA star Kyle Kuzma:

Dustin Poirier on Dana White

ESPN is the American broadcaster for the UFC, having taken over from Fox Sports, and First Take presenter Molly Qerim irked several (thousand) viewers with her stance on the Dana White slap.

“In terms of it being an isolated incident,” said Qerim, “I’ve known Dana since I was 22, and I have the utmost respect for him.

“I don’t judge people by their worst moments… as a woman, it was also his wife’s hands were also on him, and no one should put their hands on anyone. Male-female, or female-male.”

Fellow ‘First Take’ presenter Stephen A. Smith was a lot less forgiving of Dana White and said he expected his “friend” to get punished. “He knows how wrong he was to do this,” said Smith, who added that he had reached out to the UFC president before coming on air to discuss the incident.

Meanwhile, Sean ‘Suga’ O’Malley is taking flak for making an ill-judged remark during his discussion on the slap, during a recent podcast. While condemning slap, he unwisely commented that White’s wide ‘deserved a slapping back’.

Fighters will doubtlessly be asked for their take on the incident over the coming days and weeks but few will do better than Dustin Poirier. The former interim UFC lightweight champion, who twice defeated Conor McGregor in 2021, told Bloody Elbow:

“You should never put your hands on a woman. I don’t know the repercussions that come along with somebody of his stature, running these businesses and doing something like that. I have no clue. It’s not a good look, for sure.”

While Poirier was coy when pressed on what punishments Dana White could face, his strong comments on the slap make him the highest profile UFC star to criticise his president for the incident.

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