UFC president Dana White slapped and pushed his wife Anne White in a Cabo San Lucas nightclub on New Year's Eve, as shown in a video published on Monday by TMZ. The clip shows the couple arguing before Anne puts her head in her hands. When Dana grabs her hand, Anne slaps him. Dana then slaps her twice and pushes her before turning his back to the camera.
Both of the Whites spoke to TMZ, emphasizing the length of their marriage and the amount of alcohol they'd consumed. Anne released a statement, but Dana conducted an on-camera interview. "There's never, ever an excuse for a guy to put his hands on a woman," he said. "This is one of those situations that's horrible. I'm embarrassed."
As White references in that interview with TMZ, he's claimed a zero-tolerance policy against domestic violence in the past. In 2014, he was asked about the video of NFL running back Ray Rice punching his fiancée in an elevator, and he stressed the UFC's strict standards for addressing spousal abuse. "There's one thing that you never bounce back from and that's putting your hands on a woman," White told Fox Sports Live at the time. "Been that way in the UFC since we started here. You don't bounce back from putting your hands on a woman." In October 2021, the UFC released Luis Peña after he was accused of punching two women during a domestic dispute. When White was asked about the discrepancy between Peña's abrupt ouster and the UFC's leniency toward star fighters, he said, "Something like that could happen to anybody."
That standard does not apply to the UFC's most prominent fighters. Conor McGregor, the promotion's biggest star, was accused of two separate cases of sexual assault in Ireland that allegedly took place in December 2018 and October 2019; he fought three times for the UFC since those allegations were made public. Mike Perry was allowed to fight two more times, including once on a pay-per-view card, after being accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife in October 2020. The UFC went out of its way to try and redeem former NFL player Greg Hardy by giving him featured bouts, setting him up with easy opponents, and only walked away from him after he was knocked out three times in a row.
Even though the video evidence of Dana White slapping his wife is indisputable, TMZ's framing of the story is incredibly sympathetic toward him. The media outlet and White have had a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship, with TMZ happily acting as a promotional organ for White in exchange for scoops and exclusive interviews. That coziness served him in this particular case, as a story that should be mostly about the president of the biggest MMA organization on the planet hitting his wife on video is downplayed by TMZ.
"Dana White and his wife got physical with each other," TMZ's tweet read. Producers Harvey Levin and Charles Latibeaudiere, who interviewed White, seemed primarily concerned with how quickly the fight ended and how drunk the couple was, both of which minimize what happened here. It's the softest possible interrogation of someone who admits to hitting their spouse because there's no way to deny it, and it ends with White being given the space to chuckle about how he was too drunk to really remember hitting Anne at all. If Dana White were one of his own less marketable fighters, he'd be out of a job today.