A Las Vegas man was charged today by federal authorities with running a multi-million dollar human-fighting ring that stretched across multiple states and even into other countries.
Dana White is accused of being the mastermind of an organization called Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, which pitted humans against each other in brutal, blood-spattered encounters. Federal officials say White and his associates became rich from the circuit and callously watched the bouts, laughing and egging the fighters on.
"In all my years as an agent, I've never seen brutality on this large a scale," said FBI agent Owen Cartwright, who led the initial raid of White's office. "It is truly inhumane."
At the UFC's Las Vegas headquarters, officials discovered disgusting evidence. Buckets used to catch the combatants' spit and blood. Towels to wipe their blood away so they could continue fighting despite their wounds. Crude gloves designed to cushion fighters' hands so they could continue doling out punishment without breaking their knuckles. And shiny, bejeweled belts used by White to motivate his competitors to fight harder.
While White diverted some money to his fighters, the majority of the fight revenue was kept by White and the UFC itself.
"This guy was filling arenas with people and selling broadcasts of his human fights for $50 to people all over the country," said agent Cartwright. "Sure, he diverted a small portion of that to the fighters themselves. But it was only enough to keep them hungry for more and coming back for more. His fighters were not free. No one would put themselves through that sort of punishment if they had other options."
White says he will fight the charges.
"There is nothing wrong with human-fighting," he said. "I grew up in a tough neighborhood. I grew up around boxing. It's a cultural thing."
Cartwright of the FBI says the bureau is open to a deal.
"Just saying, if Dana White can hook me and some of the guys in my office up with octagon-side seats for the next UFC main event, this can go away," he said. "It's his call."