Dana White Pens Letter in Response to Mark Hunt’s UFC Sydney Accusations

UFC President Dana White
Dana White smiles while speaking to reporters on the UFC 189 press tour. Credit: Andrius Petrucenia (WC)

UFC President Dana White has asked the question we’ve all been wondering: ‘How can you take your own words out of context?’

It looks as if the era of fighter (and now promoter) authored articles and open letters is upon us. After a pair of articles attributed to Mark Hunt appeared in Australia’s Player’s Voice (and an unrelated open letter from the great Fedor to his younger brother was published by a Russian outlet), UFC President Dana White has got in on the trend.

Writing in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, White has written a letter in response to Hunt’s accusations that he was cleared to fight at UFC Sydney, and that the UFC (and White in particular) were unfairly targeting Hunt over a lawsuit he has launched against the MMA promotion.

White’s letter in full reads:

Mark Hunt was never “cleared” to fight Marcin Tybura in Sydney, Australia this November. Period. And the statements he’s been making, saying that he is, are just not true.

Let me tell you what I know.

Mark Hunt recently wrote an op-ed piece for an Australian website that described some serious symptoms.

He wrote that he’s starting to stutter and slur his words.

He wrote that he’s not sleeping well.

He wrote that he can’t remember something he did yesterday.

These are his words, from him, but now he’s saying it was taken out of context. How can you take your own words out of context? So you know what I did? My team contacted his management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.

How can I put a guy with these symptoms he said he’s experiencing immediately back in the Octagon without additional tests? I definitely wasn’t going to do that. So I did the only thing I could do — which is to pull him off an event that would have him fighting just nine weeks after writing his piece so he can have the proper time to see a specialist. Let me remind you that this is an event I already had signed contracts for and spent a lot of money marketing and advertising, so this was a big loss. But it was the right thing to do.

So here we are now. After all of this, Mark is saying that I have it out for him and I am holding a grudge because he filed a lawsuit. Let me ask you this:

Would I have placed him in two additional fights, including one in which he headlined the event?

Or paid him 1.645 million dollars, which includes a $50k Fight of the Night bonus and a $25k discretionary bonus?

All of this was AFTER the lawsuit, so how can anyone say I have any issues with this guy?

Bottom line, my job is to put on the best fights in the world and part of that is to protect these guys from themselves. I get it, they’re fighters and they want to fight. But this only works if safety comes first, and that’s always been my goal — to provide a level playing field and a safe, regulated environment for our fighters to compete in. I’ve been doing that for almost 20 years and I’m not going to stop now.

White raises some good points. While it’s easy to demonize the public face of the UFC promotion, the company has continued to do business with Hunt despite his lawsuit. That is, until Hunt’s article speaking of memory loss and dying in the cage. Not to mention a question many have asked in how Hunt’s words were taken out of context in an article attributed to the fighter himself.

It’s doubtful we’ve heard the last of this, however. Stay tuned for Hunt’s response.