White launches attack on ‘a**hole’ Aly
UFC president Dana White has called his interview on The Project "stupid and ridiculous" and said host Waleed Aly was "trying to be an a**hole".
White went on the The Project to promote UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide in December and UFC 234 in Melbourne in February, where Australian middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will defend his title for the first time.
However, the interview was soon hijacked by Aly, who appeared to suggest to White the UFC had staged Conor McGregor's infamous New York bus attack on bitter rival Khabib Nurmagomedov to hype their eventual main event fight at UFC 229 in Las Vegas last month.
In an interview with news.com.au at the GQ Magazine Man of the Year awards, presented by Audi, White continued the attack on Aly.
Asked whether he thought Aly's line of questioning followed a tedious formula since the infamous finish to UFC 229, White was savage on The Project host.
"I don't think it was tedious, I think it was stupid and ridiculous," White said.
"I think for anybody who would think that that was set up, that we would take our biggest star, get him arrested and get him kicked out of the state of New York - the guy can't fight in the state of New York any more, which is the biggest gate we ever did with Conor McGregor, which was $18 million.
"To even say something like that, you're completely uneducated about the sport and you're just trying to be an a**hole."
After the grilling by Aly, White said he'd still go back on the show.
"Tonight I would got back on The Project. Listen, the guy was trying to be an a**hole, mission accomplished," White said.
UFC president @DanaWhite shares a big Aussie announcement, explains why the bus incident wasn’t good for business and discusses the evolution of the sport. #UFC234 #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/mA1Qysc6KN— The Project (@theprojecttv) November 13, 2018
Earlier today, White told foxsports.com.au the UFC would lose its Nevada State Athletic Commission licence if they were ever found to be sanctioning a dangerous stunt like the one Aly insinuated.
White said he found the whole interview "crazy".
"I was just like, 'Are you guys serious? I can't even believe that you would consider that is true," White said.
He also fired a barb back at Aly, suggesting the Network 10 host was out of his depth.
"It happens when you talk to really uneducated people; people who are uneducated about sport," White said.
The first part of the interview began according to plan on Tuesday night when the UFC fight-maker said any event held in Australia has always been remarkably well received and he's hopeful of travelling to more cities Down Under in the future.
But the interview took an unexpected turn as Aly tried to force White into a corner, levelling the accusations the promoters set up the Conor McGregor's bus attack in April.
Aly continually went after White over his decision to never hand out suspensions to McGregor or Nurmagomedov after their fight last month descended into chaos when Nurmagomedov - who won via fourth-round submission - jumped over the Octagon and tried to confront members of McGregor's camp.
The fiery aftermath came on the back of McGregor and his entourage attacking a bus full of fighters, including Nurmagomedov, before a UFC event in New York.
McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was handed a was handed a punishment of five days' community service and an anger management program while all felony counts were dropped.
White hit back at the statement it was set up by the promotion.
"Let me tell you what, reality is better than any script you could ever write," he said on The Project.
"If you think that we would put our top guy in a position where he attacks a bus, hurts other fighters then gets sued by all of them and then gets arrested … we're not that good."
Aly copped plenty of criticism on social media for his approach to the interview.
Waleed Aly should be ashamed of himself for his chat with Dana White tonight. Channel ten have signed a multi year free to air deal with @UFC_AUSNZ to bring our fighters into our homes and here he is hitting Dana with questions he has no idea about. What an absolute disgrace.— Alex Jovanovski (@alexjovanovski) November 13, 2018
Disrespectful and embarrassing from Waleed on #TheProjectTV. He clearly doesn’t like the UFC so why have him on the show?— Mitch (@stonefish__) November 13, 2018
This is actually embarrassing.— Succulent Chinese Meal (@julzzzz___) November 13, 2018
Stop asking stupid questions. #TheProjectTV
Mildly surprised to see Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore (the least MMA people I can imagine) putting Dana White on the spot about manufacturing drama to promote fights.— Jake Watt (@JakeChatty) November 13, 2018
In the interview with News.com.au, White defended Conor McGregor and backed the star to return to his best.
"I think he is (the same fighter he used to be)," White said.
"Khabib is unbelievable, he's an incredibly tough guy and Khabib did what Khabib does.
"Everyone knew Conor was going to have a lot of trouble with the wrestling and I don't think people were shocked by the way it went. The question was could Conor McGergor catch him and knock him out."
Asked who's the next big fighter in the UFC, White backed Nigerian-born New Zealand fighter Israel Adesanya to rise to the top.
"He is amazing, incredibly talented, his technique is perfect and he's been on a run," White said of the fighter who now has a 15-0 record.
"He's a good-looking kid and speaks really well, he's got the whole package."