Read almost any profile of UFC President Dana White, and the eventual thesis emerges: "Love him or hate him, Dana White's a true original, and you can't deny his success." And it's true.
Can you imagine NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dismissing his critics like this?
"u shouldn't even respond to this douche who doesn't know sh*t about the sport ... never heard of this clown or his website or whatever it is."
There, he's talking about MMA Nation. Which, mind you, represents Luke Thomas, one of the finest MMA writers around, and one of the guys behind SB Nation's Bloody Elbow. So, surely there was a miscommunication, right? Right.
Turns out, Dana White had misinterpreted a tweet from a fan to MMA Nation:
Luke Thomas responded with this:
...But Dana White obviously thought that Thomas was the one attacking him. And then the controversy started. "Did Dana White just attack one of the best MMA writers on the internet?" It sure looked that way.
But while White is often portrayed by critics as an inflexible egomaniac, dictatorial in style, and prone to favoritism, here, he showed class. Dana White-style class, but pretty awesome nonetheless:
I am sorry for going off and saying bad shit. You know me! Sifting through shit talk and reacted. Sorry. ... Yes I am sorry I got crazy on mma nation I misunderstood and always give it right back here.
Say what you want about how he apologized, but most people in his situation wouldn't have been so open about saying, "You know what? I screwed up." But he did. And when Luke Thomas extended an invite for Dana to appear on his radio show, White obliged:
yes since I was a dick by mistake.
Ninety-five percent of you are probably impossibly confused by now--because you have no idea who these people are, or you have no idea what Twitter is--but this is a textbook example of why Dana White is so good at his job. He's rough around the edges, and as the UFC seeks mainstream credibility, that's possibly a problem. But at the end of the day, he's as transparent an executive as you'll find anywhere in sports.
He didn't have to apologize for his mistake in front of his 1,000,000-plus Twitter followers, he didn't have to reach out to MMA Nation to apologize directly, and he didn't have to accept the radio interview. But he did all those things because he carries himself like a regular person, and last night, he was regular person that'd screwed up.
All things considered, that's pretty cool, and the sort of quality that inspires intense loyalty among fans, and genuine respect, even among critics. Love him or hate him, he's an original.