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UFC President Dana White has been branded “classless” for his reaction to the tragic death of Justin Thornton.
The fighter died this week at the age of just 38 after he was KO’d by Dillion Cleckler in a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship event on August 20.
The bout lasted just 19 seconds as Thornton fell face first on the canvas following the crucial blow.
BKFC President Dave Fledman confirmed Thornton’s death in a statement on Monday, which led to an outpouring of tributes on social media.
White was asked about the news at the Contender Series post-fight press conference and he said he was saddened but admitted he was not surprised.
“First of all, is anybody shocked?” the UFC President told reporters in Las Vegas, as reported by MMA Fighting.
“I mean, in bare-knuckle fighting? I’m not a big fan. And I get, I guess I would call it concerned, when I see some of our people when they leave here and go there. It’s like, oh my God.
“But when you look at this, we’ve been putting on fights for 25 years. I’ve done over 7,000 fights with no serious injuries in the UFC.”
As well as bare-knuckle fighting, Thornton was also an MMA fighter with a 6-18 record over 24 bouts.
However, several fans criticised White’s reaction, branding his comments as ‘classless’.
What did you make of Dana White's reaction? Let us know in the comments section.
One Twitter user said: “Absolutely classless. All about him and the UFC. Refers to Thornton as ‘this guy’ and not his name.”
Another said: “Not shocked he took the opportunity to promote the UFC and undermine other organisations, alas.”
A third social media user added: “Shocked by what? Only thing different from MMA is that bareknuckle increases chances of cuts.”
Following the news of Thornton’s tragic death, a number of tributes immediately flooded in from far and wide.
One person wrote: "RIP to MMA Vet & BKFC fighter Justin Thornton who passed away this morning from injuries he sustained in a BKFC fight back in August. Really sad."
A second said: Someone else said: "Awful to hear about Justin Thornton. A truly unfortunate reminder that all combat sports are dangerous and the athletes competing are risking quite a bit, both long-term and short."
- Dana White
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