Dana White must briefly step away from UFC to raise awareness of domestic violence

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 08: UFC President Dana White is seen onstage during the UFC 282 press conference at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

UFC President Dana White has apologized for slapping his wife during a New Year’s Eve celebration at a club in Mexico. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Dana White’s life changed forever on the night of December 31, 2022, when he decided to slap his wife, Anne, in the face while the couple were in Mexico celebrating the New Year.

Of all the good White has done in this world – championing many charitable causes, creating thousands of jobs, privately going out of his way to help dozens of needy, sick and unlucky people – he has undone many. when he chose to slap after his wife first slapped him.

The two words no man ever wants attached to his name – domestic abuser – will follow him forever. It will be in the unpublished biographies that will eventually be written about him. He will be mocked on social media for the rest of his life because of it. It will be in the press articles and on Wikipedia and he will lose the respect of many who were once his fans and looked up to him for building the UFC into a global sporting powerhouse.

He has been married to Anne White for 30 years and has known her for over 40 years. And even White knows he was wrong.

In a public apology to TMZ on Monday, White accepted responsibility for his actions, which is the least he could do.

“It’s one of those situations that’s awful,” he said. “I am embarrassed.”

He should be embarrassed. It is a despicable act. And there is no excuse for that. The grainy video shows White holding his wife’s left wrist as she slaps him with her right hand on the left side of his face. He responds by slapping her with a right.

Domestic violence is a scourge in this world. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Surprisingly, one in four women and one in seven men have experienced serious domestic violence. Domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls on a typical day.

Anne White released a statement in which she said the behavior was “out of order” for her husband.

“Dana and I have been married for almost 30 years. To say this is unlike her is an understatement. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Unfortunately, we were both drinking too much on New Years Eve and things We’ve talked about it as a family and we’ve apologized. I just hope people will respect our privacy for the sake of our children.

The question is the circumstances that led to this. White is famous, and he works and plays at a breakneck pace, rarely leaving any downtime. With him, at work and in leisure, it’s go, go, go.

He’s 53 now, not 32, so it seems fair to ask, why is he drunk in public at a nightclub? He has traveled the world, seen so much, done so much and befriended so many people. One has to wonder what kind of pressure he is feeling trying to top what he has already done, pushing the UFC even further into the mainstream and creating another combat sports league.

For much of his adult life, he rode at near lightning speed to build the UFC. There is still a lot to do, but it has a large and capable staff and it is no longer just a one man job or trip. It’s OK to slow down. It’s normal to relax and no longer feel the need to push.

White made a mistake, and a big one at that. He is expected to be away from the UFC for about a month to not only work things out with himself and his family, but also to find ways to lend his name to domestic violence efforts. White has a bullying pulpit and when he talks, people listen. He is followed by 6.1 million people on Twitter and 7.8 million people on Instagram. It can affect a lot of people.

So he should step away briefly to sort out his personal life, reflect on why he slapped his wife in public, and most importantly, devise a plan to send a message about the insidious nature of domestic violence. He doesn’t need to be on a podium right now to promote fights.

In the long run, White is essential to the success of the UFC. In the short term, however, there are plenty who can take his place while White figures out how to right that wrong.

When he launched a homophobic slur in 2009 during a rant against a journalist, he not only apologized, but he put in place a plan of action. The UFC has since donated significant amounts of money to LGBTQ causes. It stands alongside the WNBA as the most gay-friendly sport in the world.

In 2013, in what was then the biggest fight in UFC history, White put a lesbian, Liz Carmouche, in the main event. It’s big news in any other sport when an athlete comes out as gay, but it’s commonplace in the UFC because it’s so common.

White doesn’t deserve all the credit for this, but he does deserve some. He helped create an environment at the UFC that helped break down that stigma.

It can do the same for domestic violence. On Tuesday, U.S. national men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter released a statement on Twitter in which he admitted to kicking his then-girlfriend and future wife Rosalind in 1991 while he was 18 years old.

In his tweetBerhalter provided details of the 1991 incident, how the couple reconciled seven months later, and how it shaped them in the 31-plus years that followed.

“I share this story after 31 years because it is important to understand that it was an event that shaped me, but did not define me. It was a unique and isolated event more than three decades ago and a terrible decision made at a bad time by an 18 year old….As a team, we emphasize responsibility, honesty and growth.These are just principles that we instill in the team; that’s how I live my life.

White acknowledged in his statement the mistake he made. The world would be a better place if White was able, like Berhalter, to find a way not only to get out of error, but to help find ways to educate those who commit this crime. It’s a push here and a slap there. Too many people don’t know it’s not that bad. Only it does not stop and often leads to horrible results.

Nothing White says, or any amount of money he throws at the problem, will end it completely. It is an insidious problem in our culture which, unfortunately, does not go away.

But this incident at a club in Mexico involving White and his wife can make a difference and help reduce incidences of domestic violence as well as educate those in abusive relationships that help is readily available.

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