Murphy’s Law – Dana White pities the fool who chooses Hollywood over the UFC

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

“In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

Since Hollywood won’t rest until it has remade every single notable TV show and movie from my childhood, an A-Team movie is currently in the works.

Of course, when it comes to The A-Team, the first question out of everyone’s lips is inevitably: “Who will play B.A. Baracus?” Well, after much speculation, it was recently confirmed that UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will be portraying Sergeant Bosco Albert “Bad Attitude” Baracus, the role Mr. T made famous, in the reboot.

While I think The A-Team remake is a bad idea, I think the casting of Jackson is a wise move. He certainly has the right look for B.A. Baracus and he has a larger-than-life personality that will serve him well in the role. Plus, he has some name recognition, which makes him an easier sell than if they had cast an unknown to don Mr. T’s famous overalls and gold chains.

[Brian Murphy may have recently retired from his Note to Self column, but upon hearing the news that I was entering his domain and writing about sports this week, he couldn’t resist sharing his thoughts on Dana White and Rampage Jackson.

So, if you already miss his weekly column like I do, please enjoy this mini-rant …]

Brian Murphy’s take:

Dana White is a narcissistic control freak. As long as he’s running the shows and calling the shots for the UFC, his ego will never allow any fighter to be a bigger name in the business than Dana White.

Honestly, for those not familiar with White, I’d say he’s a younger, cockier version of Vince McMahon. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting his company to where it is, but he truly believes that mixed martial arts would disappear tomorrow without him prominently involved.

And if you dare to have a differing opinion, White will make it his personal mission to blacklist you out of the business. He said as much to his own stable of fighters when EA Sports announced they were developing a MMA video game to compete with UFC Undisputed. White basically told his fighters, “You don’t own your name and likeness, I do. And if you don’t like it, tough.”

The message was clear – anyone who defied White would basically be ending their own career. But a funny thing happened last month, Randy Couture, one of the most well known and respected fighters in the business, called White’s bluff and signed with EA Sports MMA.

At 46, he knows his fighting days are nearly over. He’s got one more fight left on his UFC contract and then chances are, he’ll be done. So why wouldn’t he take the chunk of free money being offered and sign on to the rival video game? Seriously, what can White do to him? Put him in time out?

And at the end of the day, Couture is still going to fight his one last fight in UFC and the world isn’t going to end. White talks a mean game, but the five-time champion exposed Dana for the blowhard he is. Here’s hoping Rampage Jackson took notice. Because regardless of what White says now, if Jackson goes off to film The A-Team, White is still going to take him back and put him in matches to make money.

So what if the fight against Rashad Evans doesn’t happen in December? They can do it next summer and fans will still clamor to see the pay-per-view. Couture started it, and hopefully Jackson will continue to knock Dictator Dana down a notch.

Of course, while I tend to think this casting decision is a good move, some disagree – including UFC President Dana White.

“I hate it with a [expletive] passion,” White said. “’You’re a fighter; you’re not a movie star.’ It’s so [expletive] funny because fighters want to be movie stars, and movie stars want to act like they’re fighters. ‘Get a [expletive] grip. You’re a fighter, and you’re a [expletive] movie star. Alright?'”

In case you couldn’t tell, White is pretty [expletive] angry about Jackson’s decision to take this role. And the reason White is so pissed is because Jackson had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Rashad Evans at UFC 107 in December to be in The A-Team.

In Dana White’s mind, nothing should come before the UFC.

“‘Guess what Rashad Evans is thinking about right now?'” White said. “‘He’s thinking about beating your [expletive] ass. He’s not sitting around thinking about how him and his mom used to watch the [expletive] Love Boat together and (how) he wants to get the role of Isaac the bartender.

“‘Get a [expletive] grip, dude. You’re going to make a lot of money. You ain’t going to make a lot of money playing B.A. Baracus on The A-Team. Jesus Christ. This [expletive] drives me [expletive] nuts.’ So yeah, I’m not a big fan of fighters doing movies. When your career is over, if you turn into a movie star, that’s awesome.”

First of all, it’s “he and his mom,” not “him and his mom.” And secondly, I think Rashad Evans would make a hell of an Isaac the bartender when they inevitably remake Love Boat, so why crush his dreams, Dana?

But I digress …

I can understand White being frustrated over losing a bankable main event. He’s put promotional weight behind Evans and Jackson for UFC 107. People were excited about seeing that fight and now it’s not going to happen. It’s irresponsible of Jackson to drop out of a fight three months before it happens in order to pursue an acting gig. It could (but probably won’t) end up costing White and the UFC money. I get why that would upset White; it makes perfect sense.

But I think that White is missing the bigger picture. For the first time ever, UFC is starting to get mainstream attention. Long gone are the comparisons to “human cockfighting.” Thanks to the company’s huge financial success, ESPN and other outlets have taken notice and give the sport positive coverage. Slowly but surely, it’s being accepted by the masses as a “real” sport.

But to truly go mainstream, the company needs recognizable stars. People who don’t follow UFC don’t know who Rampage Jackson or Rashad Evans are. They couldn’t pick Georges St-Pierre out of a line up. Matt Hughes could be standing in front of them wearing a Matt Hughes t-shirt and most of mainstream America would still have no clue who he is (although the cauliflower ear might tip off a few folks).

Brock Lesnar has brought the sport some mainstream recognition, thanks to his WWE past and his over-the-top antics. Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz have some name recognition, but both are past their respective primes. And perhaps some people find themselves going “Isn’t that the guy from Fear Factor?” when stumbling upon a UFC event for the first time. But that’s about it.

To truly lose the stigma attached to the UFC, the company needs to have more crossover success. They need faces that people can attach to the sport. That way, the whole thing becomes more humanized. Those who still oppose the UFC need to see that these are charming guys engaging in a spirited competition, not just faceless thugs trying to kill each other.

One of the ways to help do that is to have Rampage Jackson star in a big-budget Hollywood film. If White had given him his blessing to do The A-Team, then when the movie came out and Jackson started doing press for the film, he could help promote the UFC along the way. That’s what we call a win-win.

But White would prefer to keep things insulated. He doesn’t want his fighters interacting with the outside world. Because in his mind, he is the face of UFC.

Of course, since he can’t seem to get through a [expletive] interview without sounding like a [expletive] spoiled child, I somehow doubt that he is really going to be the charismatic guy who wins over the masses. Ultimately, I think he’s going to end up alienating more [expletive] people than he ends up charming.

So how can the UFC overcome Dana White’s narrow-minded viewpoint? Perhaps that is a job for The A-Team.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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Comments(2)
  1. Pam September 9, 2009
  2. Joel Murphy September 9, 2009

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