Big John Slams Dana White for Video Attacking Early COVID-19 Media Coverage

Big John McCarthy joining Bellator MMA
Big John McCarthy Credit: Bellator MMA

Well before shows at the UFC Apex, on Fight Island, or even in Florida, the UFC and promotion president Dana White attempted to take an end run around coronavirus pandemic restrictions by plotting an event at California’s Tachi Palace, on tribal land. It was a bad, dumb, ill-thought out, rushed idea that was thankfully slapped down by numerous political forces and the House of Mouse itself, Disney — parent company of ESPN, the UFC’s U.S. broadcaster.

The abysmal attempt at skirting safety precautions was stopped, and cooler heads prevailed, with more time taken to get the job right. That eventually gave us the aforementioned U.S. and International (Fight Island) UFC cards, events that served as a gold standard for the rest of the sporting world.

In short, the system of checks and balances worked.

Of course, that early criticism of the UFC was harsh, and UFC President Dana White is essentially an elephant. He doesn’t forget, and made that very clear with the release of a video taking aim at certain media members earlier this week, whose coverage of the promotion’s early attempts to return to action was less than flattering.

A large chunk of White’s of the video was taken out of context, however, and the failed Tachi Palace attempt, that left the promotion ripe for criticism, was all but completely ignored. Instead journalists were lambasted for daring to be critical of a promotion doing what none to that point had been able to. And doing so in a fashion that was, at the time, seemingly reckless. Not to mention that early on, the UFC was less than transparent with media regarding safety protocols.

Among those targeted in Dana White’s self-congratulatory piece earlier this week was former ref and current Bellator analyst “Big” John McCarthy — one of the most reputable names in the sport, and a man who has helped shape MMA itself through his work developing the Unified Rules. And McCarthy, for one, who was ref all the way back at UFC 2, and finally left the cage for the Bellator broadcast booth in 2018, was none too happy at White’s attempt to take a victory lap.

Speaking on his Weighing In podcast with Josh Thompson, McCarthy tore a strip off White. “Here’s a guy that says, ‘I don’t give a f*ck about the media,” began McCarthy. “First off, I don’t even look at us as media, but that’s OK. But, ‘I don’t give a f*ck about the media,’ but then he always complains about clickbait. ‘These media guys and that clickbait bullsh*t they do.’ What the f*ck did you and your little team do, man? You little clickbait b*tch. I just cracked up. I go, ‘You are so pathetic.’”

McCarthy continued, mocking the UFC President by saying “First off, you need to have your own little pat on the back, ‘OK, let me pat you on the back,’ because you took everything out of context and made it to where you were the hero. Congratulations, Hero Dana. Oh, let me bow down to you.” White’s actions were “Unbelievable,” he continued. “My god. When are you going to figure out, ‘You know what? Just don’t worry about it.’ Do your thing you did. You did great. The UFC had a fantastic year. Let’s be honest about everything that occurred, and let’s be honest about your video because your video is clickbait, and it’s bullsh*t, and it’s out of context. So it’s just ridiculous.”

McCarthy and co-host Thompson specifically noted the failure of the Tachi Palace effort, and the intervention by California’s governor. “This really wasn’t the right time,” Thompson noted. “We wanted Bellator to keep going too, but at the time, we understood why [it couldn’t]. Because nobody knew what was going on yet, just nationwide. But the context is key. The time frame is key. Once he was able to put a show on, we were cheerleaders for him.”

“He was going to self-regulate the show,” McCarthy added on the Tachi Palace effort, calling the show illegal, and noting that it could have cost officials involved their jobs. “That was a huge mistake, and it was a mistake for every official [involved].”

McCarthy also took issue with White’s oft-repeated statement that he kept going on to keep fighters and staff employed. “It wasn’t because he was so into ‘oh I want to keep my people employed.’ He needed to put on those shows so he could get the money from ESPN, because he had a 42-fight contract that he had to meet, for him to get his $750 million dollars,” the former official stated.