The Project host Waleed Aly has come under fire for a tense interview with Dana White in which he was highly critical of the UFC boss.
White is no stranger to confrontation but he was taken to task by the TV host over his handling of the Conor McGregor fiasco with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
The UFC boss is in Australia to attend the GQ Magazine’s Man of the Year awards, as well as promote UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide and UFC 234 in Melbourne next February.
However, the majority of his time on the show was defending his handling of the drama that unfolded between McGregor and Nurmagomedov and the lack of suspensions handed down to the pair over the incident.
The aftermath of the bout – won by Nurmagomedov by a fourth round submission – descended into chaos when the Russian leapt out of the octagon to attack one of McGregor’s team members.
Two of Nurmagomedov’s then jumped into the octagon to attack the Irish fighter.
It all followed a sensational attack by McGregor and his entourage on a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and his team before a UFC event in New York earlier in the year.
Aly took aim at White over both incidents, suggesting that the UFC boss was too lenient in his sanctions for the pair.
Here’s how the tense exchange played out on The Project:
Waleed Aly (WA): “There’s the bus incident where McGregor attacks a bus full of fighters, you get really upset about that.
“Then there’s the incident after the fight where Nurmagomedov’s blokes come into the ring and there’s a scuffle after the fight.
“At that time you were livid about this.
“I’m calling this, I can see a smirk on your face as you say this, I don’t know if there have been any real punishments handed out to these guys, if they have a big price they’ve paid, but let’s be totally honest, let’s be real … you love this stuff, it’s great for promotions, right?”
Dana White (DW): “We have a hearing that’s coming up in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) that’s coming up in December, they will lay down fines and suspensions and whatever they’re going to do.
“They’re actually coming after me for the promotion of the fight, so it was a bad night and believe me everybody asks me this question.
“You know, ‘This happened and it was bad, but it’s good for your business’, it’s really not good for business when things like that happen.
“We don’t need that type of stuff to sell a fight.”
WA: “You don’t suspend them, you don’t do anything. In the bus situation where McGregor’s attacking that bus, there’s high def cameras ready to capture it so the vision is great.
“It just looks like you’re all over this.”
It was here White went on the attack, biting back and telling Aly in no uncertain terms McGregor was punished because he fell foul of the law.
DW: “We do a show called UFC Embedded where we follow the fighters around, so those cameras were there when that happened because of that.
“But do you understand, he (McGregor) got arrested … he went to jail! He had to go before the New York Attorney-General.
“So they already took care of it, what am I going to do? What’s a suspension going to do?
“He was suspended, he couldn’t fight because he was in jail!”
WA: “I get it, the state suspended him and you said, ‘Come back and fight again’, that’s what happened. If that’s what you want to do, great, I’m not necessarily criticising, I just want you to level with us and just say this is the way it is.”
DW: “I’m levelling, that’s what I do. I put on fights. This guy was arrested, he was down there because we were supposed to be talking about a fight he was going to be in, he came and attacked a bus and got arrested and went to jail.
“Now we’re overseen by the NSAC, so these guys can’t fight. They’re both on suspension, they’re going to get fined a certain amount of money. Whatever that number is that they suggest and then there’s going to be a suspension held out.
“That’s what Nevada does, they govern us. So what else am I going to do? Suspend them for another year? It doesn’t make sense.”
Fans were quick to criticise the TV host for choosing to attack White, rather than help promote the two upcoming events in Australia.
So let me get this straight… @danawhite comes on @theprojecttv to announce one of our best athletes in @robwhittakermma to headline #UFC234 in Melbourne only for Waleed Aly to ignore that and ask questions about a 7-month old incident involving an Irishman and a Russian? Ok.
— Arrogant Observer (@ArrogantObservr) November 13, 2018
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
— The Project (@theprojecttv) November 13, 2018
— Ignatius (@__Ignatius) November 13, 2018