top of page

U.S. Senators Call for Removal of Dana White as UFC President


The Ultimate Fighting Championship (hereinafter “UFC”) President Dana White found himself on the end of substantial public backlash after a video surfaced of him slapping his wife, Anne White, in a nightclub on New Year's Eve. The video is linked below for those interested (TW Domestic Violence):

After the video was released, Endeavor Group Holdings, which acquired controlling interest in the UFC in 2016, saw their stock drop 6%. White was criticized by many, notably UFC legend and commentator Daniel Cormier who stated he was no doubt in the wrong and that fighters should not be defending White’s actions. White publicly apologized and claimed that alcohol was the primary reason the incident occurred and that nothing like this had happened in the thirty years of his marriage.

Ironically, White was slated to release his new Power Slap League on TBS which would involve two athletes taking turns slapping each other as hard as they can. The premiere was initially delayed after the controversy, but White recently released a promotional video for the league, hinting that there are still plans to debut the new league soon. White again received public backlash for releasing a video promoting a professional slapping league following the incident that occurred on New Year's Eve.


White has stated in the past that there is no room in the UFC for fighters who commit domestic violence and that the UFC has a zero-tolerance policy in regard to these incidents. He was quoted as saying “there’s one thing that you never bounce back from, and that’s putting your hands on a woman.” [1] The language of the UFC’s official Code of Conduct regarding this is as follows:

“Discipline may be imposed for misconduct, which includes without limitation, the following examples:

  • Criminal offenses, including but not limited to, those involving: the use or threat of domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse…” [2]

However, even though the UFC claims it holds its fighters accountable for those who commit domestic violence, as of right now White has faced no punishment from ESPN or Endeavor. This could change as recently the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (hereinafter “CLWC”) has called on Endeavor to remove White from his position as President of the UFC. [3]. The CLWC is composed of 17 state Senators and 32 state Assemblywomen and has one of their primary goals as sexual assault and domestic violence prevention. [4]. The CLWC released an official letter to the CEO of Endeavor, Ari Emanuel, formally requesting White be removed. The full letter can be read here.

As previously mentioned, Endeavor and Emanuel have a controlling interest in the UFC meaning they have the majority of the voting stock and control over the decisions of the company moving forward. The removal of White would likely require a board vote, but since they have control of the shares, it’s basically up to Endeavor and Emanuel.

My Thoughts:

White is a very public and polarizing figure. There’s no denying that he’s been an imperative figure in the growth of the UFC and he frequently finds himself in media headlines. His influence on the sport and its popularity cannot be minimized, but his actions have put Endeavor between a rock and a hard place. White’s comments about domestic violence seem to declare his own punishment and it would be challenging for Endeavor to justify taking no action against White. It will likely not be a full removal, but a temporary suspension and a more in-depth policy against domestic abuse would be appropriate steps toward remedying the situation.

White and Endeavor could just weather the storm and wait for the controversy to blow over, but the UFC has an opportunity to make a stand against domestic violence and show their fighters and the public that these sorts of actions have repercussions. I believe they must make a statement and deal an appropriate punishment to White, even if it's not complete removal from the position. If they don’t, it sends the message that their own rules don’t apply to certain people and could lose favor with fans and fighters alike.

Evan Mattel is a 2L at Hofstra Law, Vice President of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, and Representative for the New York State Bar Association's Entertainment and Sports Law Section. He is also the Chief Editor for the legal analysis section of Conduct Detrimental. He can be found at @Evan_Mattel21 on Twitter or on Linkedin.

bottom of page