UFC president Dana White said Wednesday at media day for UFC Vegas 67 that he would not step down from his position or be punished after being caught on video slapping his wife, Anne, at a nightclub during a New Year’s Eve celebration in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
He asked people not to defend him and said his punishment is the stain on his reputation that will follow him for the rest of his life.
“I’m sure you guys have seen the TMZ video [of the slap] and have seen my interview,” White said in an opening statement. “It was obviously a horrible personal experience. There’s no excuses for it. It’s something I’m going to have to deal with and live with for the rest of my life. One thing I do want to clarify that I didn’t talk about on TMZ because I didn’t expect it and didn’t see coming are the people that are defending me.
“There’s never an excuse. I’m sure you guys have read some of the same stuff that I’ve seen. There’s no defense for this and people should not be defending me over this thing, no matter what. All the criticism that I have received this week is 100 percent warranted and will receive in the future.”
White said on New Year’s Day, he and his wife sent the video of the incident to their three children and held a family conversation about it. He said it was the first time he’d ever touched a woman in anger and said his children know him best.
Two days after the incident, Anne White released a statement in which she said, “To say this is out of character for him is an understatement. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”
White said he’ll have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of the life and said none of the blame rests on his wife for slapping him first. He had grabbed her wrist, which seemed to prompt her to slap him. He slapped back after that.
“Nobody knows you better than your kids do,” White said. “My oldest is almost 22. So for 22 years, he’s grown up in a house with me and my wife and the rest of our family. They hear and see everything. They know everything. Whatever perceptions people might have of you, nobody knows better than your kids. My kids know exactly who I am. They know exactly who their mother is. That’s what is important to us. This is a personal family matter that played out in public and our biggest focus was our kids.
“You want to talk about people being disappointed? Who’s going to be more disappointed than your kids are. That’s what we’ve really been focusing on. As far as her and I go, we’ve both apologized. We apologized to our kids. We’re trying to move forward.”
When asked about if he’d be punished for what he’d done, White insisted there would be no punishment greater than the public scorn and outrage he’s received. He said taking time away from the UFC would not be punishment for him.
The UFC’s success has made him fabulously wealthy, and he said he could have walked away in 2016 when the company was sold to Endeavor.
“What should the repercussions be? You tell me,” White said. “I take 30 days off? How does that hurt me? I told you guys when we were going through COVID, COVID could last 10 years. I could have sat it out. It’s much like COVID, actually. Me leaving hurts the company, hurts my employees, hurts the fighters. It doesn’t hurt me. I could have left in 2016. I don’t know, do I need to reflect? No, I don’t need to reflect. The next morning when I woke up … I’ve been against this. I’ve owned this. I’m telling you that I was wrong.
“Listen, we’ve had plenty of discussions internally with Ari [Emanuel, the Endeavor CEO], ESPN. Nobody’s happy. Nobody’s happy about this. Neither am I, but it happened and I have to deal with it. What is my punishment? You’re my punishment. I’ve got to walk around for however long I live, whether it’s 10.4 years or another 25 years and this is how I’m labeled now. My other punishment is 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’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life that are way more of a punishment than what, I take a 30-day, 60-day absence. That’s not a punishment to me. The punishment is that I did it and now I have to deal with it.”