Entrepreneur: How did you deal with the bad press the previous owners had generated?
White: They always say as long as you're getting press, whether it's good or bad, it's a positive thing. I've never agreed with that. I think that too much bad press can kill you. The thing that was great for us coming in and buying a company that had tons of bad press was we could come in and be the knight in shining armor. You could be the guy that comes in and says, "This is what they used to do, but this is what we're going to do now." Basically tell everyone how you're going to change it.
Many pundits and conspiracy theorists have previously described Zuffa as trying to immorally "rewrite history" and/or "take credit" for accomplishments that they had no part of. In actuality, this is an issue of public perception (something MMA still struggles with today) and Zuffa's efforts to reverse the negative image associated with the UFC and MMA.
I also spoke with a former MSNBC.com segment-producer about the "Zuffa Myth." She described news outlets as being fast-paced and competitive environments where dozens of stories compete for a small amount of air-time and streamlined punchy news-bites win out over long-convoluted ones. Unfortunately, a more accurate depiction of UFC's resurrection under Zuffa would be too complicated with too many gray areas for the mainstream media to digest and consequently less attractive of a story. Rather, the black and white "myth" version of how Zuffa are the "knights in shining armor" as White explains, is more easily reported by the media and understood by the mainstream public.
While the "Zuffa Myth" aids in the public acceptance of MMA as a legitimate sport, it is morally difficult to defend a lie under any circumstance. Those who feel very strongly about the topic should take heart in that these mainstream articles that promote the myth are a dime-a-dozen and have little long-term effect on an Internet-enabled ADD generation.
We should be more concerned about future historical books that are written about MMA and if these books don't have a chapter about the "Zuffa Myth" and the role in played in MMA's perception, than we have a serious problem that needs to be addressed.