NEW YORK – UFC President Dana White today said the suspension of UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione was aimed more at evaluating his behavior than making a definitive statement about it.
“The suspension meant we’re going to look into this thing and talk to him,” White today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
The UFC froze Mitrione’s contract earlier this month for offensive remarks he made about transgender fighter Fallon Fox. He also was fined an undisclosed amount and, according to White, complained about the hit to his pocketbook.
In the midst of a rant about Fox’s career as a professional MMA fighter, Mitrione called the 37-year-old fighter a “lying, sociopathic freak.”
White admitted the suspension and its timing wasn’t much of a punishment for Mitrione (6-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who earlier this month earned a first-round knockout of Phil De Fries at UFC on FUEL TV 9. On Wednesday, the UFC announced Mitrione’s suspension had concluded and scheduled him for a fight with Brendan Schaub (9-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) at UFC on FOX 8.
“What does that really mean? In other sports, a suspension means you lose games,” White said. “He’s not fighting right now, anyway. So we didn’t suspend him for three fights, two fights.”
Instead, it offered the promotion time to determine an appropriate punishment.
“When these kinds of things happen – normally how this works is my Twitter starts blowing up,” White said. “I don’t watch everything that goes on and hear everything that goes on. So then I start hearing about it, and [the Public Relations department] comes to us and says, ‘This guy just did this and this guy just said that,’ so I’ve got to get the whole crew together. We sit down, we look at what was said, and we put together a game plan of what we’re going to do.”
Today, Mitrione picked up a new critic: UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, who called the fighter “a scumbag.”
A public apology never came from the fighter nicknamed “Meathead,” though White said Mitrione apologized privately and admitted his grave misbehavior.
Asked whether Mitrione should have made his remorse public, White agreed it would have been the right thing to do – if it were genuine.
“I don’t tell anybody to do anything,” he said. “If a guy comes out and says something stupid, I don’t go to him and say, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to apologize, and you’re going to do this and that.’ You can’t make somebody apologize. If I make him do it, it’s not real.
“That’s literally how I deal with people and how they handle things after they mess up. We’re all going to make mistakes. That’s normal. But how do you handle yourself after you make the mistake?”
White repeatedly has said he doesn’t disagree with Mitrione’s position that Fox may have an unfair advantage by competing against female fighters, but he took issue with the way Mitrione expressed it.
Asked what he would do with Mitrione’s fine, White quipped, “I’m going to go to dinner.”
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(Pictured: Dana White)