Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech at Sunday’s Golden Globes has gotten a lot of coverage for her criticism of Donald Trump and her support for journalism, but another line of hers stood out to some sports fans. That would be her jab at football and MMA, a comment with which UFC President Dana White took issue.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep said at the awards show, which is run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “If you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
White was asked about those remarks in an interview posted Monday by TMZ Sports. “It’s not going to be everybody’s thing, and the last thing in the world I expect is an uppity, 80-year-old lady to be in our demographic and love mixed martial arts,” he said with a chuckle.
Asked if perhaps Streep, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter (who, for the record, is actually 67 years old), was singling out White, who spoke in praise of Trump at the Republican convention, he replied, “I don’t know. Maybe she did, I’m not sure.”
White pointed out that the UFC’s new owner, William Morris Endeavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel, is “definitely Hollywood, and he makes movies and TV shows and wasn’t a Trump supporter, either.” He defended MMA as having a fan base that includes “everybody.”
“I don’t expect an 80-year old woman to be a big fan of mixed martial arts, and listen, everybody’s into whatever they’re [into],” the 47-year-old said. “I’m not a big fan of golf. It doesn’t mean people should stop watching it. If you don’t like it, change the channel.”
White was not the only head of an MMA company to challenge Streep on her comments. Scott Coker, president of Bellator, posted an open letter to the actress that called his sport “truly artistic” and invited her to attend an upcoming event.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2017
On whether MMA was, in fact, “an art,” White offered these thoughts to TMZ Sports: “Oh, of course it’s an art. I mean these fighters, these men and women are so talented. They train their whole lives to become the best in the world, and the people who get into the UFC are the elite of the elite.
“To say something stupid like that is like saying she’s not a talented actress, which she is. She’s a very talented actress.”
Let it not be said that White had nothing but unkind words for Streep. But he was given another chance to set the record straight, as he saw it, when asked to comment on the UFC’s diversity of competitors.
“We have fighters from all over the world,” White said. “World champions, men and women, we do fights in tons of foreign countries. She’s not educated about the sport, and it was a completely uneducated comment.”
Here is video of the TMZ Sports interview with White.