The past six weeks have been a very stressful time for the UFC and president Dana White. A big public fight with the organization’s light-heavyweight champion, two cancelled events, Dennis Hallman missing weight by seven pounds and having his fight pulled off last nights UFC on FX 5 just twenty-four hours before the event.
The most recent headline grabbing news was the arrest of UFC lightweight, Jeremy Stephens at the fighter’s hotel the day of the event.
According to the Hennepin Country Sheriff's Jail Roster Stephens is being held for felony charge without bail. Meaning he will likely have to appear before a judge on Monday morning to be granted bail.
But that did not stop the UFC’s president from trying to cut a deal with the Sheriff’s department in order to get Stephens out of prison to compete last night.
White took to The Underground late last night to explain the situation from his point of view:
“So here’s the deal. I have been working since 11am to get him [Stephens] out of jail. the people in Iowa hate this kid and are going to stick it to him for SURE. Everytime I would cut a deal for bail they would change the deal and I was willing to do anything. They kept changing the deal thinking I would tapout and when I didn’t they left me hangin changing it every 5 mins.
People at Minn Sheriffs Dept were amazing and I wNt to thank them. He has been in town since Monday and they arrested him Friday at 11am for a reason to really fuck him. I literally just told Yves he wasn’t fighting 35 mins ago. He is a TRUE OLD SCHOOL PRO who waited all night for us to try and get Jeremy here!!!!! It is a pleasure being in biz with u Yves. So I wanted u the fans to hear it from me first.”
Dana also had more to say about the situation at the post-fight presser (quotes via mmafighting.com):
“I go straight to the police, the sheriff’s department here, and start putting the pieces together on what’s going on and how to fix it. I’m sure you saw from my tweeting, I was 100 percent confident I was going to get him out and he was going to fight. Basically what happened is, they do not like him in Des Moines, Iowa, where this warrant is from.
“Basically, he’s in one of those situations where they’re going to extradite him or not. We’ll see what happens with this whole thing. The kid’s been here since Monday, they arrest him almost at noon time on Friday after he weighs-in and everything else happens. In my opinion, they did this on purpose.
I cut the deal with people down in Des Moines, Iowa, to get him out. I accept that deal too. They changed the deal. Every time I accepted the deal, they kept trying to make it harder and harder and harder. You know me, especially after I tweeted the media to shut up, I was devising a plan to break him out and get him over here to come out and do this fight. So, they finally made this deal for an astronomical amount of money to make the deal, and I agreed to it, and then they did it again. So they’re going to stick it to this kid big-time when he gets to Iowa.
Jeremy Stephens is a young kid, a young, dumb kid who made a mistake and made a bigger mistake by not taking care of it, but, he’s got a side to this story everybody’s got a side of the story. I look at the problem and see what it is. I’m always going to believe my guy until I’m proven wrong. I’m always going to support the guys or girls who work for us. … There’s two sides to the story. I’m going to support my guy. You don’t have to be Rampage, or Jon Jones, or some of the big stars in the UFC, if you’re in the UFC and you’ve helped us and you’re a fighter here, I’m going to support you and I’m going to have your back, depending on how serious the situation is.
Floyd Mayweather got to decide when to go to jail, you know what I mean? But this kid on an assault charge, couldn’t have come out and fight today. When he could gone back to jail, I could have bailed him out, I would have flew him to Des Moines, Iowa to face the charges there. And they dragged me out and played games all day.”
Dana White, on a few occasions has referred to the UFC as “The NFL of mixed martial arts”, which is a fair assessment to say the least.
Could you imagine if an NFL team went on the road for a game and one of its players was arrested for a felony on game day? The team owner gets “said player” out of jail and inserts him into the game.
No professional sports team would even think of doing something like that. The team would face a substantial fine and the player would be suspended undoubtedly.
The UFC is trying to make a more positive image and be seen world-wide as a legitimate sports league. What kind of message does it send when you are on twitter, publicly displaying your ego and claiming that the jailed fighter, who was denied bail will still get out and fight for you within hours or minutes of his release?
Yes, of course there were many fans on the social networks rallying for the release of Stephens so he could fight Yves Edwards, a fight that had “fight of the night” potential.
Dana White was also quick to block anybody on twitter who sent him direct tweets he did not like, questioning his actions or expressing their opinion in the matter. Like this person who was simply stating a fact:
More interestingly, did Dana White even bother to speak with the Athletic Commission overseeing the event, checking to see if they would allow a fighter fresh out of jail to compete in their state? Most likely not because he is “Dana fuc*ing White”!
In the United States of America you are “innocent until proven guilty” so I will not discuss Stephen’s charges directly or the rumors that his arrest was for an assault on another man, which resulted in him being seriously injured.
Bottom line; if Stephens had competed last night it would have been a step backwards in the UFC’s goal to become accepted as main stream world-wide and brought forth massive amounts of negative press towards the UFC for doing so.
Written by: Jay Russell – @VENDETTA_MMA