Making an off-the-cuff funny about Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White betting $500,000 on Jon Jones to defeat Rashad Evans this weekend (April 21, 2012) apparently isn't so funny even if it was supposed to be a "just a joke."
Just ask CagePotato.com.
In its endless quest for chuckles within the mixed martial arts (MMA) community, the website -- which its editors describe as "cutting edge, topical and brutally honest" -- found itself in hot water this afternoon when the UFC legal machine demanded a retraction for the "outrageous," "defamatory" and "false" statement that White has wagered a half-million greenbacks on the upcoming UFC 145 main event.
To check out the picture and caption that triggered the firestorm click here.
In the same breath, the Zuffa legal eagles insinuated that the retraction was the first step "in the filing of a lawsuit seeking punitive damages against a party that has maliciously published defamatory statements about another."
Unsurprisingly, CagePotato.com didn't waste any time issuing the retraction. However, website editor Ben Goldstein -- who described the situation as "so silly" -- told the USA Today that the website, which is backed by Break Media, won't go down without a fight if the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion intends to "set their lawyers on us on a regular basis because of satirical captions we write...."
CagePotato's official retraction:
On Saturday, we published a post about the UFC's sponsorship of Jon Jones for his upcoming fight against Rashad Evans, which included a satirical caption about UFC president Dana White betting money on the fight. The caption was intended to be a joke, and we were confident that it would interpreted that way by our readers. Earlier today, we received a press release announcing that the UFC and Dana White are demanding a retraction "regarding certain false and defamatory statements attributed to UFC® President, Dana White." CagePotato doesn't contest any part of (the UFC) request; we hereby retract the line in question, which has since been removed from our site. Again, the caption wasn't published with any malicious intent whatsoever, but we understand that Dana White's reputation would be harmed if our readers actually believed that he bets on the UFC's matches. Once again, Dana White does not bet on his own fights, and he never has. We apologize for any misunderstanding the caption may have caused.
And, last, but certainly not least, White's reaction to the retraction:
"This is just so silly that I want to print this retraction and get this behind us. I have no (problem) saying on our website, 'Look, it's just a joke. We didn't mean it to be intended this way.' I'm just not interested in turning this into some sort of beef with UFC. It's really not that important to me. Maybe it's something that hits very close to home for him. He doesn't want to be seen as someone who would ever bet on his own fights. ... I can respect that, because if people started believe that the head of UFC was actually betting on his own fights, that's a serious allegation. I have no problem swallowing my ego and apologizing for a joke. But if it turns out that they want to set their lawyers on us on a regular basis because of satirical captions we write on our website, then we'll fight back. We'll get our own lawyers involved and defend ourselves. ... We're not going to change the way we do business."
"Not even close [to being cool]"
Based on everything right here, right now, it's a safe bet that this situation is far from over.