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Watch ESPN hosts Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim send love, support, and respect to embattled UFC boss Dana White

Outspoken ESPN host Stephen A. Smith, who previously told the sports world he didn’t like women competing in mixed martial arts (MMA), addressed the Dana White situation on “First Take” earlier this week alongside co-host Molly Qerim.

The UFC President recently made headlines for slapping his wife in Mexico.

“We have to maintain consistency in pointing out you do not put your hands on a woman if you are a man. You do not do it. Dana White knows that and all I can say is, again, he has spoken out against men who put their hands on women before and whatever punishment you would exact under these circumstances to somebody else is what he should apply to himself,” Smith said (transcribed by The Big Lead).

ESPN, which has a considerable financial arrangement with UFC and plays host to the bulk of the promotion’s combat sports programming, thanks to a landmark deal signed back in early 2019, has been heavily criticized for its lack of White coverage over the last few days.

“I could see him doing something even stricter just because he’s the leader and he’s the leader of men,” Qerim added. “I just want to say a couple of things. They talked about drinking heavily. When you’re under the influence, not shining moments, often people don’t make their best decisions. So in that sense it’s a cautionary tale. In terms of it being an isolated incident, I’ve known Dana since like 22, I have the upmost respect for him. And I don’t judge people by their worst moment. I agree with you on that punishment part. And the other piece I just want to say, as a woman, it was also his wife’s hands on him. No one should be putting their hands on anyone. Male, female, female, male. I’m not a part of the whole cancel culture and I don’t judge people by their worst moment. He has a beautiful family and I wish them the best.”

White has often touted his zero-tolerance policy when it comes to MMA fighters and domestic violence, with a couple of high-profile exceptions, but as of this writing did not appear to be facing any consequences from Endeavor, parent company of UFC.

“Well, like I said, you’re absolutely right,” Smith said. “I have nothing to add other than, I think it’s important that if you’re going to sit on this platform you owe it to your audience to be honest. To be honest and forthcoming. Dana White is not just somebody I know and support, nor you. He’s a friend. I love him. I just wish the best for him and his family. He knows how wrong he was to do this. He knows that we’re on this. He knew ahead of time because I reached out to him to let him know that I would be talking about this this morning. He knows that he crossed a line that he never crossed before and that he swears he will never cross again. He is incredibly ashamed of himself. That’s where we are right now.”

Endeavor shares were down nearly six percent in the wake of last weekend’s incident.

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