Dana White sat down with the former Viacom and Spike TV executive Doug Herzog to discuss his initial take on starting the women’s division in UFC. White also brought his famous interview on women’s in UFC into discussions with Herzog and claimed it was the one thing in his life that always haunted him.
In 2011, a clip of Dana White took the internet by storm in which he denied the involvement of women in UFC.
White laughed at women in UFC and replied,’ Never. Ever.’
Two years later, in 2013, UFC announced the first women’s fight. White explained the story of changing his mind to bring women into the UFC BASIC! When Cable Was Cool podcast.
“So, one of the things that you have to remember at the time—there’s a very famous clip of me on TMZ, I’m getting out of a restaurant in LA, and they’re asking me, ‘When are women going to fight in the UFC?’ And I look in the camera and I say, ‘Never,'” White explained.
“At this time, I’m trying to get people to accept men fighting in a cage! Right?”
“I went to a fight up in northern California, once, where there was a horrible mismatch between women. And I was like, ‘Oh, my god.’ And listen, I’m not gonna lie, there’s a little bit of that—being a man—little chauvinistic; in that, ‘Women are pretty, women are—bwah, you don’t wanna see women get beat up, you don’t wanna see—’ In a million years, I never saw this coming; where these women would be so technical, and so tough, and so badass. I mean, the women that we have now, in the UFC? There’s a lot of things I saw coming, I didn’t see that one coming. That’s for damn sure.”
When he met Ronda Rousey, a rising talent from Strikeforce he changed his minds.
“But the thing that changed everything was, I met Ronda Rousey,”
“Ronda Rousey manifested all these things that have happened. And I had a meeting with her one day, and halfway through the meeting I’m like, ‘Holy s*it, I think I’m gonna do this. And I think she’s the one to do it with.’ And thank god I was right.”
UFC president said that the top brass of UFC did not have an issue with women competing in the Octagon. But, he faced resistance from fans.
“But, I think that you hear these things about—and this is coming from a man’s point of view—you know, ‘Women aren’t treated the same as men. Women aren’t this and that.’ All this other stuff. And I was always like, ‘You know, maybe there’s some of this and some of that.’ Until I headlined Ronda Rousey above Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida and people lost their f*cking minds. I was getting these messages from people, like, ‘You piece of sh*t. You dah-dah-dah-dah-dah.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ I never realized this existed because it’s never happened to me, you know what I mean?”
White accepted that he made the right call at that time as the event was completely sold out. He added,
“So once I headlined Ronda Rousey I was like, ‘Wow, man.’ I never realized there would be this kind of blow-back from these lunatics out there. Then, that night, we were in Anaheim; when she walked out of that tunnel in that arena, I knew I made the right decisions. Sold out, two women fighting in a main event.”
White praised Rousey
“Rousey changed every mind that night,” he said.
“If you look at women’s boxing—before I did my first women’s fight, you looked at women’s boxing and it was more sort of a sideshow type thing,” he continued.
“When Ronda Rousey walked out of that tunnel that night? The entire arena erupted. I get goosebumps even telling the fricking story. The entire arena erupted. And the fight, it was incredible. She was one her way to not only being the biggest superstar in the sport, but the highest paid. Pretty bada**.”
Dana White felt lucky to have the women on his cards after that. He also took the credit for changing people’s perspectives toward women in MMA. White thought that he had learned his lesson. He said,
“I have learned my lesson, believe me. I have learned my lesson,” White admitted. “We live and learn, and I have learned. It’s true.”
Ronda Rousey was the first UFC superstar that broke into mainstream paving the way for Conor McGregor. Her celebrity eclipsed that of the UFC and of all of her competitors regardless of the outcome. Nowadays Rousey keeps busy in the WWE and is enjoying life outside of the cage.