Dear Uncle Dana
Dear Uncle Dana, You recently offered your two cents on Amateur Mixed Martial Arts, and I couldn't disagree more. I was disappointed with your take.
Here's the statement in question:
"I don’t believe in amateur mixed martial arts. There’s no such thing, it’s BS. What it is, is a way for a promoter to not pay a fighter. That’s what amateur means. It means I don’t have to pay you because I consider you an amateur and I believe there is no real amateur mixed martial arts in this sport, until the Olympic committee gets behind it like they did with USA boxing and boxing in other countries. I would love for that to happen.” - Dana White
Dana, I love you, but what you've said couldn't be further from the truth. You're a kingpin in the MMA world and when you say things like this, people listen. I'm not sure if there was a larger context that this statement belongs in, but if this is meant to be a stand alone stance, it fails on several levels. Firstly, if getting paid was a prerequisite for competing, where would we be? I'm hoping you were just speaking to the multitude of smaller promotions that don't deserve to be putting on shows. As far as the solid promotions that do things right, I think you're missing the boat.
How does honing your craft, gaining some real in cage experience and seeing how you match up with other up and comers before making your pro debut not sit well with you? Is this coming from the same guy that pays participants on his show, The Ultimate Fighter, absolutely nothing? I just don't understand where you're coming from. If it weren't for the amateur end of the sport, half of these guys would never really know if they have what it takes to compete against a total stranger in front of real fans. Do you really feel that amateur promotions are taking advantage of these guys? If it weren't for promoters stepping up and putting on amateur shows, these guys would have no place to showcase their talent.
Are college sports also BS since they don't pay their players? Both college and amateur sports are avenues to becoming better at your given craft, developing a competitive edge and then potentially going pro. What about all of the UFC guys that started their careers in the amateur ranks? Did they just waste their time? Were they taken advantage of by the very same promotions that gave them their start? Most amateur promotions get into putting on events for the love of the sport, not to make millions.
Uncle Dana, you're statement also misses the mark when it comes to the Olympic committee giving its stamp of approval. If and when MMA becomes an Olympic Sport, amateurs will still be competing without pay. Plus, if Amateur MMA didn't already exist, there would be nothing to get behind. From my point of view, the further the Olympics Committee stays away from mixed martial arts, the better. It would probably only end up diluting the sport to one degree or another with modified rules, judging, round lengths etc. The last thing MMA as a whole needs is another group of bureaucrats screwing up the purity of the sport. Am I right?
If you could just step back and understand that these promotions aren't getting rich off of these kids, I think you'd appreciate what they are doing. They're putting on great shows while helping these athletes grow and develop both in and out of the cage. The value they bring in giving future stars of MMA grow as professionals is immeasurable.
When it comes right down to it, many of these up and comers gain much more than the small promotions that are putting on the shows. When you consider that many of the lower tier of your UFC fighters are lucky to make a few thousand per fight, can you really be serious when you point your finger at amateur organizations and say they take advantage of their fighters?
Amateur MMA and shows like The Ultimate Fighter can only be seen as either a ways and means for up and comers to showcase their talent, or as exploitive. Most fans and participants alike see the value in unknowns being able to showcase their talent whether it be at the local or national level. No one holds you in contempt for developing talent the way you do. For that, please don't throw all amateurs and the promotions they fight for into your trash can of irrelevance.
Just remember, the likes of Rhonda Rousy, Aaron Riley, John Fitch and a host of other fighters started in the amateur ranks. If talent like that got their start in amateur competition, shouldn't we show some respect to the organizations that helped build them?
Saying there's no such thing as Amateur MMA and that it's all a bunch of BS just isn't nice.
It's also not true.
MJ on MMA