UFC President Dana White talked about the non-traditional way in which he conducts his mixed martial arts (MMA) business, saying he could not do it without the help of Twitter.com even if it gets him into trouble with his his public relations department ... or Jon Jones.
Forgive, but don't forget.
Even though Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White and his Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, buried the hatchet in the wake of the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's epic -- and historic -- cancelation of UFC 151 back in Aug. 2012, the sensational story still has legs.
White was recently the keynote speaker for the recent New Media Expo (NMX) earlier this week (Jan. 6, 2012) in Las Vegas, Nevada, answering an array of questions and covering myriad topics throughout the nearly hour-long one-on-one interview (watch it here). Social media was the over-arching theme throughout the discussion, namely White's mastery of Twitter.com to engage and interact with fans unlike most executives in major sports.
"People always compare me to those guys [Roger Goodell, Bud Selig and other commissioners], but I'm different than those guys ... not in a bad way," he said. "They're doing just fine with whatever they are doing. I'm different, I have been since Day One. If you come on Twitter with me, you're going to read things and see things that you don't expect from the president or commissioner of a sport."
Indeed, White currently boasts nearly 2.4 million followers worldwide. And those who monitor his feed have surely seen him take an unruly fan to task, express his latest frustration, break news or even use it to incite a flash mob at the nearest Pinkberry so he can giveaway gear, tickets and other swag.
"I'm very honest, I'm very real with everybody," he said. "And if you say something stupid to me, I'm going to say something stupid back. I think that's why people follow me -- I have fun on Twitter. Plus, we engage with the fans a lot.... I giveaway tickets, merchandise -- we do fun stuff through Twitter. And people love free shit."
It's not all fun and games, though.
When Dan Henderson was forced off the aforementioned UFC 151 fight card with a knee injury on short notice, White and Co. scrambled to match up "Bones" with a late replacement. Chael Sonnen volunteered to step up on just 10 days notice, but Jones didn't feel it was in his best interests and turned down the main event shake up.
White went haywire, throwing Jones and his head trainer, Greg Jackson, under the bus, labeling the latter a "sport killer," among other sideways superlatives for committing UFC 151 "murder." And he did a lot of it through social media, which was the public platform for both parties to vent their sides of the story.
However, the most heated exchange came when Jones announced on "The MMA Hour" that he felt the UFC "treated him like a piece of meat." White didn't back down, responding on the "Jim Rome Show" with, "I wonder how the piece of meat was feeling when we bought him the Bentley."
Unsurprisingly, the Twitterverse exploded with reactions. And the UFC public relations department was most likely besieged with inquiries. It was, for better or worse, the promotion's most memorable moment of a rough-and-tumble 2012 fight season ... and maybe even its relatively short history.
And it likely still stings to time travel.
"The PR department hates me," he said. "They're always pissed at me. I'm always saying stuff before [I should].
That's a little diva there -- being treated like a piece of meat?" White continued shortly thereafter. "I think [Jones] was being a diva. It is what it is."
White quickly moved on to talk about other issues, but he made no excuses or apologies for the way in which he handles his business behind closed doors or in the public eye. It's a recipe for success that has turned a questionable $2 million investment into a $1 billion empire (maybe even much more).
"We're pretty honest and open," he said. "I'm lucky I can do it my way. I can do things the way I want and still have relationships with FOX, Bud Light and all the other people we deal with."
Including Jones, who is seemingly back in White's good graces, serving as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 opposite Sonnen, both of whom will likely headline one of 2013's most successful pay-per-view (PPV) events at UFC 159 on April 27 in Newark, New Jersey.
Forgiven, but not forgotten.