Posted May 16, 2015 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

UFC president Dana White lies, plays dumb about convicted domestic abuser Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson on Off the Record

UFC President Dana White appeared in a brief segment on Off the Record Friday to talk about Reebok, Anthony Johnson, and CM Punk (embedded at bottom of post). We’ve written about Anthony Johnson’s history of domestic violence and the UFC’s amateurish mishandling of him before. He’s a familiar face around here.

Host Michael Landsberg asked White about Anthony Johnson’s ‘checkered past.’

White responded, “Actually, that’s incorrect. What happened with Anthony Johnson is, he was dating a girl who made a lot of accusations about him, and we actually went in and did a complete and full investigation on this thing and Anthony Johnson was actually the one who was being terrorized in this relationship.”

Here, Landsberg interjects, “What happened in 2010, though? Wasn’t he sentenced in 2010?”

“Yeah, I-I-I-I-I don’t know exactly what happened to him then. You know, when you say he had a checkered past, there’s been a lady that he dated that, you know, was saying all kinds of horrible things about him that were absolutely not true, and it was actually proven in court, so. It was not true.”

That was the end of their discussion about Anthony Johnson, and most of what White said is misleading or unverifiable, if not untrue entirely.

White focuses on the most recent (one of three total) accusation of domestic violence against light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson, who fights for the title May 23rd at UFC 187. White also steers the conversation back to this incident, dismissing the 2010 conviction for domestic violence as something that ‘happened to (Johnson) then’ that he doesn’t know about.

Given his previous statements about the UFC’s strict policy on domestic violence, I’m willing to assert that this is bullshit. One such statement:

“We’ve been like that since day 1…There’s one thing that you never bounce back from and that’s putting your hands on a woman. Been that way in the UFC since we started here. You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.” -via MMAFighting

Presumably, since their policy is so severe and resolutely enforced, they must be doing thorough checks on their fighters, current and new alike. And immediately cutting those who violate the policy. Somehow, the multiple reports on Johnson’s 2010 conviction and sentencing for domestic violence just escaped their notice?

Sure. Let’s pretend that’s at all likely. Since then, it’s been brought to their attention multiple times, especially when the most recent accusations were revealed in September of 2014. At that point, they suspended Johnson. At that point, they absolutely knew about the 2010 conviction, and ended the suspension when the woman making the most recent charges voluntarily dropped them. Lorenzo Fertitta acknowledged they were familiar with the 2010 conviction when they re-signed him in 2014. Not to mention, he was fighting in the UFC when the incident happened, and wasn’t suspended until 2012, for missing weight and losing. They could have cut him five years ago, if they did indeed ensure no fighter ‘bounced back’ in the UFC from beating up women. Instead, they’re doing everything they can to ensure that this fighter does.

White’s speech is intentionally misleading; after painting this woman as a crazy stalker-type, he then says she was ‘proven in court’ as lying about everything. This is impossible to verify. The charges were voluntarily dropped and the case was dismissed. We don’t have access to any documents from the case, or from the UFC’s ‘complete and full investigation.’ We just have to take White at his word that the UFC is an upstanding company that does what they say they do, such as cut fighters involved in domestic violence. And hey, since they say their private investigation and the case that is inaccessible proved Johnson didn’t do anything, why cut him?

Because, you know, the 2010 conviction of domestic violence. This is not debatable. Anthony Johnson was convicted in 2010 of domestic violence. Anthony Johnson was sentenced in 2010 for domestic violence. But this is what White ‘(doesn’t) know’ about. Yes, we’re to believe the president of the UFC ‘doesn’t know’ every detail available of this type of PR disaster about a fighter who’s been on his roster for ages – but he managed to prepare a list of Brendan Schaub’s sponsors. Well, let me help poor Dana again. Here’s what ‘happened to (Johnson)’ that resulted in his conviction and sentencing for domestic violence.

The ex-girlfriend said Johnson came to her house near Chabot College in Hayward about 10:50 p.m. and banged on the door. She told police she said she didn’t want to speak to him. When Johnson then forced the door open, it struck her in the head, according to the police report. The woman told police that Johnson pushed her around, picked her up by her armpits and slammed her to the ground. He then put her in a headlock and dragged her up a flight of stairs.

If you read the entire article, you’ll note the ‘crazy woman’ defense also trotted out by Johnson’s attorney. Anthony Johnson does have a ‘checkered past,’ marred by three accusations of domestic violence over the course of five years, from three different women in two states. Why the UFC thinks it can successfully bury its head in the sand about this is as unknowable as its rationale for continuously contradicting itself in public.

So let’s recap the official UFC line about Anthony Johnson:
-crazy woman terrorizes, says horrible things
-court proves crazy woman lied
-also it’s not true because private investigation
-2010 conviction, ??? idk

If White wants to propel MMA into the same tier of professionalism as other pro sports, vilifying a possible victim of domestic violence in public, deliberately misleading people about issues around the UFC, and playing dumb about his own fighters are not the ways to go about it. He acts like a bully who finally got caught by an adult, used to intimidating his way out of conflict and punishment but completely unprepared to defend himself against a real grown-up. White persists in this headstrong persona, despite that it’s readily apparent righteous indignance and an utter lack of self-awareness undermine credibility more than admitting your athletes do things beyond on your control. But of course, if White did that, he’d have to own up to the hypocrisy inherent in claiming men who beat up women are banned from the UFC and employing them anyway.

Maybe Dana White’s most fruitful deception has been his success in fooling himself. He seems to have somehow remained unaware that he is routinely ridiculed for his temper, condescension, and lack of professionalism. Like a child who bullies, he appears to assume if he thinks he’s shouted you down, he can remain untouchable. Instead, he should begin anticipating the day when the only people who take what he says seriously will be the fighters dependent on his good favor. If White continues eroding his credibility, it shouldn’t be long.

Convicted domestic abuser Anthony Johnson fights for the light heavyweight title May 23rd at UFC 187.

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Sydnie Jones