The Top 20 Dana-isms
WARNING: This article contain foul language, proceed with f***ing caution.
Everybody has signature words and phrases that they use on a regular basis.
Not words they’re trying to integrate into their vocabulary or turn into a thing (that is so fetch!), but just automatic responses and manners of speaking that become identifiers to everyone they interact with on a regular basis.
If you’re a UFC fan, chances are you have your own favorite “Dana-isms” – a turn of phrase or quote delivered routinely by UFC President Dana White that makes you smile, laugh, shake your head, or all of the above whenever you hear it.
With the amount of time White spends answering questions and promoting fights in front of cameras and microphones, the emergence of some signature sayings and comments that are “Classic Dana” were bound to happen.
And we’re here to celebrate them.
These are the Top 20 Dana-isms.
Dana White’s favorite word can’t actually be written in this space, and goes by the aliases “expletive” or “expletive deleted” in transcriptions of interviews conducted with him.
Whether it’s the word itself or a modified version of the 44-year-old’s four letter favorite, this bad boy finds its way into just about every conversation White has that lasts more than three sentences, unless he’s trying extra hard not to say it.
And you can tell when he’s actually forcing himself not to say it – he pauses ever so briefly, as if his brain is saying, “Dude – you’re on The Mindy Project. I know FOX is pretty fast and loose with the language after nine, but you still can’t say (expletive deleted) in primetime.”
His penchant for dropping this little gem with alarming frequency is a divisive subject as well, as some argue it’s uncouth and unprofessional, “You’ll never see Roger Goodell or David Stern out there calling Peyton Manning or LeBron James a (expletive deleted) goof at a press conference.” – while others embrace White’s unfiltered style as a refreshing break from the buttoned-down, tight-lipped world of lame answers and half-truths that has become common place in sports, and everywhere else for that matter.
#19: “This is the Fight Business”
“Old Reliable” here has been a White favorite for quite some time, uttered whenever something goes sideways or someone does something incredibly stupid.
It’s one of his more frustrating crutches to be honest because it counterpunches all the positives that White and countless others have worked so hard to bring to the forefront over the years whenever critics attack the sport.
You can’t rally against those who claim the sport is full of barbarians by pointing to the myriad college graduates to have graced the cage, and then fire off a “this is the fight business!” when someone under contract behalves like a Neanderthal as if to say, “What do you expect? These guys get punched in the head for a living.”
Thankfully, it has been taken out of the rotation of late – or maybe UFC fighters are just doing fewer stupid things to make White turn to this classic from his collection. Whatever the reason, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if this phrase was never uttered again… at least not in this context anyway.
#18: “I’m not a…”
I'm no doctor but I have see a lot of men who are too tough for their own good and JDS is one of them. He was out and this should stopped.— Dana White (@danawhite) October 20, 2013
This is a fairly new entry, but it has been getting a lot of run as of late.
Part of what makes it so easy to use is that the possibilities off that set-up are endless, and it works much like other classic lead-ins like “With all due respect…” and “Don’t take this personal…” The next word is always “but” and it is always followed by an opinion of some sort, usually one that carries criticism of someone or something someone did.
Following UFC 166, White turned to his new friend a number of times, taking it across various media platforms when he repeatedly told people, “I’m not a doctor” before sharing his belief that the heavyweight main event between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos should have been stopped in the third round.
It was fitting that the trilogy bout between the last two men to carry the heavyweight title was the “coming out party” for White’s new favorite phrase, as it was after their first encounter in November 2011 on FOX where the UFC President debuted it, beginning his assessment of Velasquez’ game plan with “I’m not this guy’s coach.”
:)— Dana White (@danawhite) February 13, 2011
No, that isn’t a typo. It’s the equivalent of a smiley face on Twitter, and it has become one of White’s signature symbols over the last few years.
Generally speaking, when the more than 2.6 million people that follow Dana White on Twitter see that symbol show up in their timeline from the UFC President, they know one of two things has happened: either the company just had a major success or one of their competitors just failed miserably.
It became a “Dana-ism” when White tweeted it out following Fedor Emelianenko’s loss to Fabricio Werdum, and now any time that symbol emanates from his Twitter account, there is always at least one person who thinks they’re the funniest person in the world for asking, “What – did Fedor just lose?”
#16: “Dana the Fan” reacts to fights on Twitter
Diego has balls of steel and a chin to match!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) October 20, 2013
There are some times when Dana’s permanent presence on Twitter is a bad thing, like when he engages the trolls and Twittiots (Twitter + Idiots) that say ridiculous things, most likely just to see if they can get a rise out of the UFC President so they can favorite it, re-tweet it, show their 5-7 friends, and re-live the moment at least once a day for the next week.
“Remember that time Dana White called me a (expletive deleted) moron on Twitter?”
But there are times when his devotion to the 140-characters or less social media platform is awesome, and fight nights claim the top spot on that list. Just as fans watching at home or from the seats grab their phones to offer up their instant reactions to epic battles, bad decisions, or the scoring of a round, so too does Dana.
You may not hear David Stern or Roger Goodell using White’s favorite word, but you won’t find them engaging the audience and putting their passion for their sport on full display either.
Note: as of this writing, Goodell’s last tweet came on September 5, while Stern last hit up Twitter seven days after never; he doesn’t have an account.
#15: “This is the biggest fight in UFC history!”
Listen – when you strip away the title and get down to brass tax, Dana White is a fight promoter, and his business is to get you to watch the next big event, and to pay for it if it's on pay-per-view.
Yes, even you, Bieber.
PPV Justin RT @justinbieber: Who has a video of the ufc fight tonight? Send it to me— Dana White (@danawhite) July 7, 2013
So it should come as a surprise to no one that he’s going to bill the next marquee bout on the horizon as “the biggest fight in UFC history.” The objections to this constant sales pitch, however, are not on the basis of surprise.
What makes this one hard to take is that there was a stretch a couple years back where every fight was “the biggest fight in UFC history,” even though they were nowhere close. GSP vs. Dan Hardy? Not the biggest fight in UFC history. Neither was the delayed grudge match between Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson.
Brock Lesnar’s return to face Shane Carwin? Anderson Silva’s first fight with Chael Sonnen? Those two you can slap this tag on, but Edgar-Penn II? Good fight, but not the biggest fight in UFC history.
The other piece of this is that when upcoming bout after upcoming bout gets labeled thusly, it takes away from the truly epic encounters that have already taken place. Because White and the UFC are so focused on selling the next bout, there is rarely enough time dedicated to paying homage to the great fights of the past.
Ultimately, the phrase has lost its meaning and doesn’t carry any weight beyond the casual audience, and that sucks because there are times when the next fight really does have a chance to the biggest fight in UFC history, but fans have become so immune to the sales pitch that true or not, chances are they’re tuning it out and deciding whether they’re going to tune in or not based on the fights, not the way the bouts are marketed.
#14: “(Challenger X) is (Champion Y’s) toughest test to date”
This one is the twin brother of “the biggest fight in UFC history,” and suffered the same fate as its sibling.
There are going to be times when a division is short on challengers, and fans understand that. You can’t always have a collection of elite athletes at the ready to step into the cage with the reigning, defending, undisputed champion, which means that some times, the guy with the belt is going to get an easier title defense than normal.
While White is never going to come out and say that, his insistence on heralding every contender as the champion’s toughest test to date got old really, really quickly.
Here’s the thing too: as the promoter, you’ve always got the “anything can happen” element on your side too, so whenever you get a less than stellar championship match-up, invoke Matt Serra’s upset win over Georges St-Pierre and call it a day.
There was absolutely nothing about White’s favorite husky friend from Long Island that made him look like a threat to the newly crowned champion, but we all know how things played out the first time they took to the cage.
Scale back on the hard sell, Dana.
#13: “We’ll have to see”
This is a post-fight press conference staple, reserved for questions about a fighter that just had a good or bad performance and what comes next for them. “We’ll have to see” has two different definitions:
1. We have an idea, but we’re not ready to share it with
you guys just yet
2. I didn’t see the fight you’re talking about, but I can’t say that because it will hurt that person’s feelings, so let me just parry this one away as quickly as possible.
It’s the standard answer to those “I know I’m not going to get a legitimate answer from him, but I have to ask the question anyway” questions. Very rarely does White ever unveil what the future holds for someone fresh off a fight, unless it’s a championship bout, a No. 1 contender bout, or a fight just finished and “you’re not going to believe the text I got right after that fight.”
If there is a big fight to announce – one that might eventually come to be billed as “the biggest fight in UFC history” – White will share the goods. Otherwise, “we’ll have to see.”
#12: “In the mix”
This Dana White classic is the older, more mature brother of #13.
On one hand, being deemed “in the mix” is a feather in your cap as a fighter, since it means you’re in contention. On the other hand, there can be anywhere from three to eight fighters that are “in the mix” in their respective divisions at any given time, so it’s hard to know how much stock to put in to this slightly better, but equally vague statement.
Obviously, White relies on “in the mix” in situations when he’s asked about a fighter’s standing in the championship race as a way to identify them as a contender without having to lock them into a certain place in the pecking order.
It’s one of those oft-used phrases that you really liked the first couple times you heard it because you thought, “OK – he’s in the mix,” only to realize that all it really meant was that the fighter had graduated from the “we’ll have to see zone.”
#11: “Fighting is in our DNA”
Now it’s time for a little Vintage Dana.
It has been a while since White rolled out this line, but when the UFC was just beginning their efforts to expand into Europe and Australia, with an eye on Asian, there were a lot of interviews where the UFC President was telling reporters and television hosts that “fighting is in our DNA – we get it.”
And for the record: he’s right.
One of the things that makes the UFC easily accessible on a global scale is that just about everyone understands what it means to fight. There is a strong likelihood that at one point or another, you’ve been in a fight, be it with a sibling, the kid next door, or the neighborhood bully, and there’s no real “this is how you do it” instructional time required.
As much as there are complex techniques and strategies involved in the UFC, at the end of the day the goal is 'get in there and beat up the other guy', and a lot of people can connect to that right away.
When you sit down and explain it or take the time to examine what he’s saying in greater detail, it makes perfect sense and sounds much better than when White would say it repeatedly and look at people with a “What don’t you understand about this?” on his face as if they were the only one hoping to get a little more information.
10. “The Biggest Sport in the World”
This one drove a lot of people bonkers, and rightfully so.
You don’t have to be a soccer fan to know that it is – without question – the biggest sport in the world, but every chance White got, he trumpeted the UFC as the world-wide leader, when it was (and still is) nowhere close. That’s not a horrible thing to admit either, given that every sport that is currently ahead of MMA in the global rankings had a colossal head start.
The funny thing with this one is that White had (and still has) a comparable, but true statement that speaks to the strides the company has made, especially over the last decade, at his disposal, as the UFC is officially the fastest growing sports organization in the world.
Think about it: no other organization has gone from zero to globally recognized as the unquestioned leader in that particular sport in under 20 years, save for the UFC.
That should have been White’s go-to line when it came to explaining the global presence the UFC had cultivated in such a short amount of time, but he had to take it to the next level and a place where no one who knew anything about sports beyond the Octagon was buying what he was selling.
As has been a theme throughout this list so far, scaling back on the rhetoric just a little would serve White well.
#9: “We’re regulated by the government!”
(Quote at 2:35)
This one is starting to fade and it’s about time.
For far too long, White used this familiar refrain to deflect any questions about drug testing and the organization taking a more proactive, hands-on approach to cleaning up the sport.
Saying “we’re regulated by the government” is like Roger Goodell saying, “the refs didn’t call it a penalty” and not hanging out supplemental punishment when there are dangerous, unnecessary hits on the field or “well they weren’t arrested” when a player violates the league’s drug policy.
What compounds matters is that many of the athletic commission appear incapable of doing the little things like finding qualified officials that know what they’re doing, so expecting them to take the lead and be an effective force against PEDs is an exercise in futility.
But the UFC has the power to make positives changes, and thankfully, we’re starting to see that recently, with things like the suspension of Ben Rothwell and White’s insistence that the organization is going to take a hard stance on testosterone-replacement therapy and testing athletes that have been given therapeutic usage exemptions.
Hopefully they keep moving in this positive direction, and we never have to hear the UFC President remind everyone that the sport is “regulated by the government” again.
#8: “(Insert Name) is a (Favorite Word) Idiot/Goof/Moron!”
There have been a lot of different names dropped into this classic Dana-ism over the years, and you can be sure that many more people will find themselves joining “The Fraternity of Idiots.”
From former and current competitors (Tom Atencio, Gary Shaw, Bjorn Rebney) and boxing promoters (Bob Arum) to fighters (Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock, Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz some more), White has recycled a version of this line innumerable times, especially during the company’s multiple failed attempts at bringing Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko into the Octagon.
This really is one of White’s best, as it usually draws a laugh, and then is accompanied by some story about the fighter/promoter/whoever has just been deemed an idiot/goof/moron/whatever.
“Tito Ortiz is a (expletive deleted) moron! Have I told you about the time…”
That’s classic post-fight press conference media scrum material right there.
Dana uses that word a lot, even though he might not know what it means.
Perhaps his most infamous utterance of the word came when a reporter from TMZ asked him when women would fight in the UFC.
“Never,” he told him, and for a long time, White held true.
He didn’t change his stance when Gina Carano rose to prominence and then-rival Strikeforce started building the women’s ranks. Every time he was asked, the refrain remained the same – not enough depth, not going to happen.
And then along came Ronda Rousey and everything changed.
The really funny thing – in one of those funny meaning unfortunate ways – is that rather than giving White credit for changing his mind, recognizing Rousey’s star potential, and ushering the women’s bantamweight division in the UFC, most people just wanted to give him the gears and remind him about all those times he said it would never happen.
But it’s not like this was the first time White had said something was “never” going to happen.
Tito Ortiz was never going to fight in the UFC again. Same goes for Karo Parisyan. And B.J. Penn. And Nate Marquardt. And Kimbo Slice.
And professional boxer James Toney, though he was not named specifically – that was more of a general, “I’ll never put on one of those freak show fights!” type assertions before “Lights Out” wanted to step inside the Octagon. White obliged, paired him off with former champion Randy Couture, and the tandem served as the penultimate pairing at UFC 118. (Sad sidenote: that was Couture’s last win in the UFC.)
Maybe instead of using “never,” White should go with something a little less definite like “not likely,” adding his favorite word between the two for extra emphasis when necessary.
#6: Fight Week, Blog Week
Dana’s video blogs are wildly popular.
They give people a behind-the-scenes look at past events and occasional a little “Day in the Life of Dana White” too, and this has become his signature ending to his introduction. Here’s how it goes:
What’s up everybody? It’s [insert day] and [if away, state location] UFC [insert event title here] is this weekend, and it’s a stacked card. We’ve got (count off fights on fingers) [main event], [co-main event] (pause to try and remember who else is on the card) [mention one more fight]. What you’re gonna see today is some behind-the-scenes from [insert recent event]. Don’t forget – [insert upcoming event] is going down live on [insert network] this [insert day]. It’s Fight Week, Blog Week!
People love these things, and hearing the words “Fight Week, Blog Week” lets them know that they’re about to see the things you don’t get to see watching at home. The video blogs are like the special features on a DVD, and everybody likes the special features on a DVD; if they don’t, they’re not enjoying DVDs the right way.
#5: All things Steve Mazzagatti
Referee Steve Mazzagatti is a favorite target of White’s anger and frustration, and the UFC President doesn’t pass up many chances to remind everyone of his opinion that he’s the worst official in the sport.
Back in June, White spent nine-minutes discussing him based on a fight that didn’t even happen under the UFC banner:
This one, delivered after UFC 104, is arguably the most blunt, top-the-point assessment of the official to date:
"Mazzagatti will (favorite word) up any fight. The worst referee in the history of fighting, period. I don’t care if there was a fight back in the old days, okay, the Stone Age. Mazzagatti is the worst referee ever. The guy has no business watching mixed martial arts, let alone refereeing it."
In recent months, however, other officials have started earning Dana’s ire.
Kim Winslow has become a favorite target of the UFC President (and everyone else too for that matter) and with good reason, while Jay Stafin had a really bad night at UFC 166 and got put on blast for it on Twitter:
That ref sucks!!!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) October 19, 2013
Still, Dana loves to rip on “The Mazz,” and fans love to listen to it.
4. Loud Noises with Joe Rogan Before Each PPV
Depending on whether you’re in attendance or watching at home, you get one of two experiences in the break between the preliminary fights and the main card.
If you’re in the audience, you get to sit back and get chills as the original sports montage set to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” rolls on the big screens, allowing everyone in attendance to re-live some of the greatest, most iconic moments in UFC history.
If you’re at home on the couch or watching at a local establishment, you get Dana White and Joe Rogan shouting at you over top of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”
Rumor has it they’re introducing the main card line-up that is soon to start on pay-per-view, but no one can actually confirm that as fact because it always just sounds like white noise, with Dana standing there giggling as Rogan gets more and more excited and his eyes bulge out of his head a little more.
#3: “Don’t Like It? Don’t Watch”
This became a familiar Dana refrain a couple years ago when the UFC suffered through an extended period plagued by injuries. Fans took to Twitter and various websites to complain about everything from the construction of fight cards to the price of the pay-per-view events, and this was White’s response.
Like some of the earlier entries on this list, the fact that White frequently offered this up as an alternative to disgruntled fans ruffled some feathers.
He was going 100-percent against the grain when it came to “The Promoters Guide to Selling Your Product,” and that upset people. White wasn’t supposed to tell people not to watch UFC events – he was supposed to listen to their complaints and remedy the situation.
Others, however, saw no problem with White’s insistence that if you didn’t like the product that was being offered, don’t buy it. For one, it addressed the “no one is forcing you to buy or watch these events” issue, which is something the UFC President would often weave into these conversations as well, but more importantly, the complaints and pseudo-solutions weren’t realistic.
The UFC wasn’t going to drop the price of their events and refunds because “that event sucked." As for the rash of injuries that ravaged a series of events in the summer of 2012, it was one of those unfortunate “there is nothing we can do about this” situations that sane, rational people understood.
Faced with nonsensical demands in the middle of a rough patch that was completely out of their control, White told those with complaints to keep their money, and it became one of his most recognizable refrains to date.
#2: “Don’t let it go to the judges”
The first time White uttered this all too familiar idiom, it was meant as encouragement – a “get them fired up to go out there, put on exciting fights, and pursue the finish” call to action.
Now it’s a sad, but true commentary on the state of judging in this sport.
In an ideal world, there would be nothing wrong with a fight going to the judges – they’d fill out their little slip of paper after each round, and when the scores were read, the correct fighter would be awarded the victory. Basically, judges would do what they’re paid to do, they’d do it effectively, and everyone would go home happy.
But this isn’t an ideal world, and somehow, the judging is actually getting worse.
There are more and more “Hang on – what?” scores announced with each passing event, and rounds clearly won by one individual being awarded to the other, changing the decision, and turning what should be a victory into an unwarranted loss.
So now when White says it – and he says it often – it’s equal parts motivational speech to hopefully produce more finishes and cautionary warning to not leave the fate of your fight in the hands of a collection of people that have repeatedly proven to be bad at their jobs.
#1: “So You Want to be a (Favorite Word) Fighter?!”
This is Dana White in all his glory – passionate, direct, harsh, honest, and a big fan of the (expletive deleted) – and this speech stands out as easily the greatest “Dana-ism” of all time.
A version of this speech found its way into numerous subsequent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, but none were ever as good as the original.
There's really not much to say about this, that's how good it is. It leaves you completely speechless and as you can see in the UFC documentary, 'Fighting for a Generation', the impassioned speech has left quite on impact on the mixed martial arts community.