Dana White has reflected on the infamous comments he made about women in the sport of mixed martial arts before they became such a major part of the UFC.
It’s hard to imagine how the UFC’s modern landscape would look without the four women’s divisions to bolster the promotion’s ranks – especially when a bulk of the current pound-for-pound greats are plying their trade between 115-145lbs.
Ronda Rousey, at one point, was the most marketable face and most dominant force at Dana’s disposal – something that makes his original stance on the inclusion of females in the UFC slightly baffling.
When asked by a member of the media back in 2011 whether he could imagine seeing women in the UFC, a sharp ‘never’ was his response – words he would later eat when the biggest star in the company fought her battles as the women’s bantamweight champion.
Speaking in a recent interview with Hashtag Sports, White admitted he was wrong and expressed excitement about the changes that their inclusion has brought about in the sport.
“Because they’re good. Because they’re really good. One of the things you have to remember—I completely own up to saying women would never fight in the octagon—but like I told you guys earlier, you’ve got to remember at this time, I was trying to get people to accept the men fighting in the Octagon. It wasn’t allowed on pay-per-view. It wasn’t allowed on TV.
“There’s always going to be this, it’s changing rapidly, but there’s always going to be this chauvinist side to men that men don’t want to see women getting pinned up against the cage and hit with elbows and getting cut, things like that. So I thought. It’s very popular now. The difference is, the reason that the women’s MMA has taken off and it’s so big is because these women are legit. Really good, very technical, and it’s amazing and I never saw it coming.
“If you think about in all other sports what they talk about is ‘if women play golf, they hit from shorter tees’, there’s always some excuse about women playing a sport. It’s absolutely an even playing field in the UFC. They fight the same style, they fight everything and even the pay. At the time Ronda Rousey was here, she was the highest paid fighter in the UFC.
“These women are incredible. What’s crazy too, when you think about the empowerment of women right now — for most men this is hard to wrap their head around — a woman will kick your ass these days. It’s not like it was 30 years ago. When I grew up, they played with dolls and we played sports. Not anymore.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena