Dana White harshly criticized Larry Merchant in a recent interview. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Speaking with MMA Fighting, UFC boss Dana White had comments on the feud between Floyd Mayweather Jr and HBO Sports analyst Larry Merchant. White has also spoken about the Mayweather vs Ortiz fight, blaming Joe Cortez for losing control of the bout and hurting boxing with the controversial finish. But here's what he had to say about Merchant:
"These guys get done fighting and he jumps in the ring and just starts saying off-the-wall, weird, rude shit to these guys. Who the hell would want to do an interview with him? ... I actually thought that that was very embarrassing for HBO. The guy is senile, he's out of his mind. He's up there berating Floyd, but Floyd can't say anything back to you?"
Years ago when UFC was talking with HBO about doing some programming, one of the things the UFC didn't want to give up was control of the production and things of that nature. White has employed Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who are basically a couple of cheerleaders for the brand and its fighters. I'm not saying that to be mean or whatever, it's just how it is. I could never imagine the UFC employing someone like Merchant, but the freedom of HBO commentators to be critical is, at least in theory, part of their appeal.
And that's not to say that I think they should. Frankly, I think we're well past Merchant's sell-by date as a commentator, and I'd prefer HBO not feature him anymore. But people do like him. When HBO tried to remove him a few years back, there was some level of outcry from boxing fans and media, which basically saved his job.
Now, was it embarrassing for HBO? Hardly. If anything, Merchant became a star himself with the interview. Normally I'd point out that Merchant constantly tries to make himself the star, but this was a situation where I didn't see anything unusual or even particularly notable in the interview. All of this wouldn't have happened if Floyd hadn't lost his temper at Merchant, who this time did not deserve the blow-up from the fighter. Yes, he's been insulting to fighters in the past, but to say he was "berating" Mayweather on Saturday is a bit much. Mayweather could have said or done a lot of things, but he had a temper tantrum. In my view, neither side came out looking too professional, but they sure got people talking.