Days after dismissing a cyber attack launched against UFC.com, UFC president Dana White said he welcomed another assault on the online hub of his promotion.
"Keep hacking our site. Do it again. Do it tonight," White said Thursday following a news conference promoting UFC on FOX 2, which takes place Saturday in Chicago. "These guys look like terrorists now, and a bill that was about to die is about to come back."
The hackers obliged. Just after 3 a.m. ET, Anonymous -- the collective responsible for online attacks against corporations and U.S. government websites -- hacked into the back-end of UFC's web page. The incursion, Anonymous promised, was Round 1 to #OpUFC, a topic that that trended globally overnight on Twitter.
"We wonder if Dana White will ask Anonymous to hack him again tomorrow," the group tweeted.
The online attack on UFC.com was apparently prompted by UFC parent company Zuffa's support for two pieces of federal Internet anti-piracy legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Zuffa joined the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and other content creators, including ESPN's parent company Disney, in support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Though it was not associated with the original hack that rerouted UFC.com visitors to the website UGnazi, Anonymous took exception to White's comparison of hackers as "terrorists," and the Internet as a place "where cowards live."
Engaged in a dialogue with Anonymous via Twitter, White said his only concern was ending the illegal streaming of UFC pay-per-view events.
The perpetrator of Sunday's first salvo against the UFC identified himself on Twitter as @JoshTheGod. The move came after an op-ed, penned by UFC vice president and counsel Lawrence Epstein, appeared the same day in the Las Vegas Review Journal that framed Zuffa's stance regarding the necessity for stronger anti-piracy measures.
Thursday night, @JoshTheGod responded to White's comments by releasing personal information about the promoter online, including his Social Security number, residential addresses and telephone numbers.
In November, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta authored a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced SOPA in the House of Representatives.
"The piracy of live sporting events is illegal, it kills jobs, and it threatens the expansion of U.S.-based companies," Fertitta wrote. "This is the issue that keeps us up at night, and we are very concerned about the theft of our shows."
Fertitta claimed the UFC is potentially losing tens of millions of dollars a year from piracy.
Proponents of the House and Senate bills suggest the pieces of legislation would provide tools to bolster enforcement of copyright laws and protection of intellectual property, especially against foreign owned and operated Websites.
"Is SOPA the perfect bill? No, it's not," White said Thursday. "The only thing that we're focused on is piracy. Piracy is stealing. If you walk into a store and steal a f------ gold watch, it's the same as stealing a pay-per-view. I don't care what your twisted, demented idea of stealing is. These kids grew up on the Internet never had to pay for anything, so they don't think they should have to."
Opponents say enforcement measures outlined in the bills imperil free speech and innovation on the Internet. Concerns raised by civil liberties groups and the tech industry, most notably Google, resulted in mass online protests that recently halted the progress of SOPA and PIPA in Congress.
Josh Gross is a mixed martial arts writer for ESPN.com.