Ariel Helwani Points To Double Standard In Media Coverage Of Dana White Incident

Renowned mixed martial arts reporter Ariel Helwani has slammed the mainstream response to UFC President Dana White‘s physical altercation with his wife.

2023 has opened on rough footing for MMA and the UFC. As well as former fighter Phil Baroni getting arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend to death, one of the sport’s leading men was filmed striking his wife on New Year’s Eve.

In the footage, which was released by TMZ alongside statements from both White and his partner, the couple can be seen in a heated dispute at a nightclub in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After being hit by his wife during the apparent argument, White can be seen slapping her before seemingly attempting further strikes.

The footage quickly went viral, with the UFC president receiving widespread condemnation. The latest to address the incident was Helwani, who suggested that the reaction from mainstream media has fallen short of an acceptable standard.

Helwani: Perception Of MMA Lightens Reaction To White’s Slap

During a recent episode of The MMA Hour, host Helwani discussed the footage of White and the subsequent response from media publications and fighters.

The Canadian looked to highlight a double standard between how White’s domestic violence incident has been covered compared to other sports. According to the longtime journalist, the shortcomings derive from the perception and contempt many still have for mixed martial arts as a legitimate sport.

“Look at the way it’s been covered. Look, go look! And compare that, by the way, to the way other domestic violence situations have been covered by the mainstream, by them (ESPN)!” Helwani said. “By people that I respect. But this is what they expect from us. This is what they expect from MMA, from cage-fighting, from the UFC, from Dana White. We are not held to the same standard.

“They talk about all these things, about other owners, about boxing, about promoters, and they always hold the UFC and Dana White to a different standard because we’re the fun thing on Saturday night that you do with your friends, that you bet and you gamble, and you eat your pizza and your wings, and you drink your beer, and then you go to the real stuff on Sunday and then Monday,” Helwani continued. “We don’t get the same type of criticism because they don’t actually think that highly of the sport.”

Helwani went on to insist that individuals in similar positions in other sports would have faced a significantly higher level of scrutiny. But while he believes mainstream media houses may view such an incident as “okay” when it comes in a sport like MMA, the Canadian left no doubt about the ludicrous nature of that narrative.

“I can guarantee you, if this was someone in his position in any other sport, any other league… I can guarantee you if it was any other sports owner, any other executive, he would be raked over the coals,” Helwani stated. “It would be completely different… But that’s the way they view the sport… the way they view him.

“The outrage isn’t going to be the same if it’s expected… We just don’t hold them in the same regard, to that same high standard. ‘He’s the fight promoter guy. This is the crazy cage-fighting sport. It’s okay.’ Guess what? It’s not okay… This is not okay. And it’s not okay for the UFC to be silent about it… This behavior is not okay,” Helwani concluded.

Helwani also cited some decisions in the past as further evidence that the sport and the UFC often falls short in its handling of domestic violence. The 40-year-old mentioned the promotion’s questionable booking of convicted domestic abuser Greg Hardy on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, who was beaten by her husband the year prior to the 2019 event.

That, Helwani suggested, is further evidence that the promotion and its backers don’t take domestic violence as seriously as other sports. And that’s despite White’s previous claim that individuals can “never bounce back” from striking a woman.

Do you agree with Ariel Helwani’s take on the mainstream media coverage of Dana White’s domestic violence incident?

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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