‘There’s No Leashes’: Post-Fight Press Asks 3x About Censoring Sean Strickland Until Dana White Finally Had Enough


Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) CEO Dana White snapped back at a pool of reporters Saturday night after they asked three times about censoring UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland’s previous comments, scolding one reporter about “free speech.”

Following the UFC 297 fight between Strickland and fellow mixed martial arts fighter Dricus Du Plessis, White sat down for a post-fight press conference to discuss the event and upcoming plans for the UFC. Roughly nine minutes into the press conference, one reporter brought up Strickland’s previous comments leading up to the fight. 

The reporter questioned the UFC CEO if there was any “discussion” with sponsors before the fight, claiming Strickland had made “some offensive comments.” (RELATED: ‘You Are An Infection’: Sean Strickland Rips Mask Off Media In His Most Brutal Presser Yet)

“Sean Strickland — the story of the week, maybe of the story of the last year or 14 months. There was a bit of scuffle earlier this week, some comments he made — some offensive comments caused some public backlash. I know you’re not in the policy of policing your fighters speech, but was there any discussion with UFC, ESPN, BudLight — any sponsors about how to kind of handle this situation?” the reporter questioned. 

White immediately shut the question down stating that there were “zero” conversations on the topic, later noting that Strickland is a “star.” However, it wasn’t long before a second question surfaced regarding Strickland and Du Plessis’ “dark” trash talk, emphasizing how Strickland had previously warned Du Plessis about hitting child abuse topics. 

“I know you kind of answered this somewhat but when the trash talk between Sean and Dricus got a little dark there with the child abuse and then the brawl of 296, did you ever consider going to those guys and saying, ‘Hey, this might be the one time you need to tone it down’?” the second reporter questioned. 

“I don’t tell anybody to do anything. I don’t try to control any other human beings in any way, shape or form. I say it all the time, we’re in the fight business and, if you get your feelings hurt that bad you probably shouldn’t ask the type of questions when you know the answer you’re going to get from Strickland. Let’s start there,” White stated. 

In an attempt to push back on White, the reporter quickly attempted to correct him, claiming he was discussing another set of comments, before White shut him down while noting he understood what he was asked. (RELATED: ‘Go F*ck Yourself’: Dana White Gave Epic Response To ‘Big Sponsor’ Who Asked Him To Take Pro-Trump Post Down)

I know what you’re saying. I know what you asked me, White continued. “It is what it is. It’s the fight business man.”

While it appeared that the topic of Strickland’s trash talking was finalized, a third reporter jumped in nearly a minute later, questioning the UFC CEO about the “long leash” he gives to his fighters which appeared to send White over the edge. 

“You obviously give a long leash to your fighters about what they can say when they are up there with the UFC microphone and you are getting into territory of homophobia, transphobia – like, is there— ,” a third reporter asked before being cut off by White. 

“I don’t give anybody a leash. A leash? Free speech. [You’re going to] control what people say? Going to tell people what to believe?” White snapped. “I don’t fucking tell any other human being what to say, what to think. And there’s no leashes on any of them. What is your question?”

The reporter then claimed he was asking the question that White appeared to not like, quickly noting he was willing to “move on.”

“Yeah, probably a good idea. That’s ridiculous to say I give somebody a leash. Free speech, brother. People can say whatever they want, they can believe whatever they want,” White stated. 

“We had two gay women who fought in the co-main event. They sat on the stage with Sean Strickland — they could give a shit what Sean Strickland thinks, or what he says or what his beliefs are, or what his opinions are. You know what I mean?”

White has been known for his free speech advocacy within his company, previously stating on a podcast with comedian Theo Von he had told sponsors to “go fuck” themselves after they reportedly demanded he take down a social media post featuring former President Donald Trump.