UFC president Dana White isn’t surprised by Bare Knuckle FC fighter Justin Thornton’s death and praised the UFC’s emphasis on safety.
UFC president Dana White ripped the sport of bare-knuckle boxing in light of the tragic death of Bare Knuckle FC fighter Justin Thornton, who passed away after a lengthy hospital stay following a knockout loss at BKFC 20.
BKFC became state-sanctioned and commissioned in 2018, and at the time was the first of its kind since 1889. Thornton suffered a brutal knockout to Dillon Cleckler just seconds into their fight, resulting in him being partially paralyzed for several weeks before dying as a result of a spinal cord infection on Oct. 3.
During his Dana White’s Contender Series Week 6 post-fight presser, White reacted to Thornton’s death while also praising his promotion’s focus on athlete health.
“First of all, is anybody shocked?” White said. “I’m not a big fan of bare-knuckle fighting. We’ve done over 7000 fights with no serious injuries in the UFC. We’ve had some bone breaks and cuts, but the reality is the number one thing for us is fighter safety. Every year, we spend over $20 million on athlete medical care. It’s never been done what we do.”
“We shouldn’t be talked in the same sentence as bare-knuckle boxing,” White continued. “We’re very sorry to hear that this guy passed away, but you’re never going to see all of these other organizations do our level of medical testing.”
Dana White’s comments come just days after Justin Thornton’s tragic death following BKFC 20
White went on to expand on the UFC’s medical testing further, stating that the promotion has found a total of 10 athletes with life-threatening injuries since he purchased the UFC in 2001. White has convinced fighters such as former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell to retire after sustaining serious injuries in the octagon.
BKFC could potentially see a blow to their marketability going forward, especially in light of White’s recent comments and the sheer brutality of bare-knuckle fighting as a whole.