Dana White didn’t like Dennis Hallman’s get-up at UFC 133 based on what is believed to be strict aesthetic preferences.
There was too much information to Hallman’s cage presence, which trumped a near offender earlier on the card called Alexander Gustafsson, whose shorts were closer to hot pants than Hallman’s skivvies. In the end, White paid Brian Ebersole $70K for scrubbing his eyes of the spectacle.
The UFC’s backstage handlers surely took a tongue-lashing yesterday back in Las Vegas for letting Hallman proceed to the cage this way.
If White was surprised, imagine how Brian Ebersole felt -- he's used to being the oddity in the cage, and here he was getting out-bizarred before the opening bell.
But this whole episode raises the question of what fighters can and can’t wear versus what they should and shouldn’t wear. It needs to be defined by the UFC just as it is in other professional organizations.
There are some fighters, like George Sotiropoulos, who have been accused of essentially wearing pants in the cage for using knee and ankle braces. Sweat is one of the enemies of late-round submissions, and a slick jiu-jitsu practitioner might be angling for an unfair advantage here by ensuring traction.
It doesn’t need a strict dress code to homogenize the fighters, but Hallman -- who says he wore his tiny trunks on a bet he lost -- just thought it’d be funny. It was, and it wasn’t against the rules. As it turns out, Hallman just became the rule. Which means that the UFC has to detail a list of what can and can’t be worn in the cage, down to how much thigh can be exposed. The NFL has a fine-enforced standard for tucking in jerseys and keeping their socks exposed. Similar rules exist in other sports for uniform protocol. The NBA even enforced a mandate for its players to wear something akin to business attire before and after games. This went over like a Machiavellian power play for guys who liked to keep things real loose.
For the UFC, it boils down to protecting an image and appearing as a professional. Dana White wants professionalism in his sport, not inside jokes. Hallman’s appearance will be one of the more memorable moments of UFC 133, and as funny as that is, it’s exactly why White is mad about it.