Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White proved beyond a shadow of a doubt tonight (Oct. 5, 2012) that he is loyal to his company first and his company last.
Even if that means trying to cut deals with law enforcement officials to allow a fighter to get released from jail just long enough to fight, at which point said fighter could simply be taken back to jail.
I wish that were a joke, but it's not and the promotion has officially embarrassed itself with its behavior in this situation, spearheaded by White, the company mouthpiece. This is on the level of Jon Jones and his "apology" after getting a DUI that wasn't really an apology, it was the light heavyweight champion chastising fans and media for picking on him and "kicking him while he was down."
Here's the situation as it played out tonight:
Jeremy Stephens, a lightweight fighter with the UFC who puts on exciting fights, but isn't a star by any stretch of the imagination, was arrested this morning in Minneapolis on two separate assault charges stemming from an incident in Des Moines, Iowa, sometime in 2011.
Because he was scheduled to fight later in the evening, White started crying conspiracy, like the law specifically waited for this moment to arrest Stephens to prevent him from competing on the "Prelims" under card of a UFC event that was likely seen by a couple hundred thousand people at best.
Think about that.
It was during this period of negotiation that White was so desperate to get Stephens out that he was willing to pay a lot of money just to get him free long enough to fight.
"Where they ended was fucking insane," White remarked at the post-fight press conference. "I mean, I could have gotten Manson out for what they wanted me to pay for him."
That's Charles Manson he's referring to. Yes, that Charles Manson.
If you've gotten this far and are wondering why White doesn't seem to care and wants to Stephens to have him fight even if it will cost an absurd amount of money, congratulations, you have basic human empathy and reasoning.
Here's the rest of what White had to say at the post-fight presser, providing his definitive breakdown on the situation (props to MMA Fighting).
"I go straight to the police, the sheriff's department here, and start putting the pieces together on what's going on and how to fix it. I'm sure you saw from my tweeting, I was 100 percent confident I was going to get him out and he was going to fight. Basically what happened is, they do not like him in Des Moines, Iowa, where this warrant is from.
"Basically, he's in one of those situations where they're going to extradite him or not. We'll see what happens with this whole thing. The kid's been here since Monday, they arrest him almost at noon time on Friday after he weighs-in and everything else happens. In my opinion, they did this on purpose.
"I cut the deal with people down in Des Moines, Iowa, to get him out. I accept that deal too. They changed the deal. Every time I accepted the deal, they kept trying to make it harder and harder and harder. You know me, especially after I tweeted the media to shut up, I was devising a plan to break him out and get him over here to come out and do this fight. So, they finally made this deal for an astronomical amount of money to make the deal, and I agreed to it, and then they did it again. So they're going to stick it to this kid big-time when he gets to Iowa.
"Jeremy Stephens is a young kid, a young, dumb kid who made a mistake and made a bigger mistake by not taking care of it, but, he's got a side to this story everybody's got a side of the story. I look at the problem and see what it is. I'm always going to believe my guy until I'm proven wrong. I'm always going to support the guys or girls who work for us. ... There's two sides to the story. I'm going to support my guy. You don't have to be Rampage, or Jon Jones, or some of the big stars in the UFC, if you're in the UFC and you've helped us and you're a fighter here, I'm going to support you and I'm going to have your back, depending on how serious the situation is.
"Floyd Mayweather got to decide when to go to jail, you know what I mean? But this kid on an assault charge, couldn't have come out and fight today. When he could gone back to jail, I could have bailed him out, I would have flew him to Des Moines, Iowa to face the charges there. And they dragged me out and played games all day."
While it's awful nice that White is willing to overlook assault charges for his guys, it's just as ridiculous as you're probably believing it to be. The details of the situation have yet to be revealed, but the rumors are flying and sites like Reddit already have posts up from community members claiming to be close to the situation and describing it as such that Stephens did some terrible things and he's being punished accordingly.
Apparently, White never bothered to look into that or if he did, he didn't care enough to let it affect his decision making process.
At the end of the day, this is a simple situation, or at least it should have been. White should have come out and said there were legal issues that came up involving one of the fighters scheduled to compete on the UFC on FX 5 card and he would no longer be able to make his scheduled duties. An apology should have followed, as well as an announcement that Yves Edwards, Stephens' scheduled opponent, would be paid both his show and win money for all the trouble.
Instead, White took to Twitter to throw the media under the bus for trying to figure out the situation, blasted the cops and cried conspiracy for screwing with a guy in jail for multiple assault charges, generally acted petulantly like he was somehow a victim in all this, and showcased once and for all that the UFC is in way over its head.
Put simply, this was an embarrassment and White should be ashamed of the way he handled it. Bringing up Floyd Mayweather's situation as part of his defense? Really?
"But ... but ... HE got to decide when he goes to jail? Why not us? Wah! Wah! Wah!"