UFC president Dana White took responsibility in a news conference on Wednesday for slapping his wife, Anne, on New Year’s Eve, prompting criticism from a pair of former fighters who mocked his refusal to self-impose a punishment for the high-profile incident.
“There are no excuses for it,” White said. “It’s something I’m going to have to deal with and live with for the rest of my life.
“There’s no defense for this, and people should not be defending me over this thing, no matter what. All the criticism I have received this week is 100% warranted and will receive in the future.”
White was caught on video made public by TMZ slapping his wife while they vacationed in Mexico. The video shows his slap came as a retaliation after she slapped him first. Others at the party then intervened.
White said no further discipline for the incident would be forthcoming.
“Here’s my punishment: I have to walk around for however long I live – and this is how I’m labeled now,” he said. “My other punishment is that I’m sure a lot of people – whether it be media, fighters, friends, acquaintances – who had respect for me might not have respect for me now. There’s a lot of things I have to deal with the rest of my life that’s way more of a punishment than, what, I take a 30-day or 60-day absence?”
Not everybody with connections to the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization was satisfied with White’s comments.
Later Wednesday, the retired UFC fighter Ramsey Nijem mocked White’s comments, invoking a nine-month suspension that he received for a positive marijuana test in 2019, when he was signed to the Professional Fighters League.
“When I was suspended for 9 months for weed I think the better punishment would have been known as a weed user,” Nijem wrote. “That’s the punishment commissioners being known as a weed user, I have to live with that the rest of my life.”
One-time UFC lightweight title challenger Al Iaquinta soon followed, posting: “When I was suspended from winning bonuses for 3 fights for cursing at the crowd and wrecking a hotel room, I think the better punishment would have been to be known as a crowd cursing hotel wrecker.”
White has come under heightened scrutiny in light of his 2014 comments to Fox Sports Live in which he said: “There’s one thing that you never bounce back from and that’s putting your hands on a woman. Been that way in the UFC since we started here. You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.”
The 53-year-old executive said on Wednesday that he was especially disappointed in himself because he has been advocate against violence on women.
“I was very opinionated on this and I still am,” he said. “It’s crazy that I’m even sitting here having this conversation with you guys.”
Anne White previously said in a statement to TMZ that the slap was “out of character.”
“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” she said. “Unfortunately, we were both drinking too much on New Year’s Eve and things got out of control on both sides. We’ve talked this through as a family and apologized to each other.”