John Oliver is a popular news-talk show who often wins the fights he picks, but not against Dana White. The two had a short-lived feud that ended on good terms but with White having the last laugh.
Early on during the pandemic, right after all sporting events were canceled, the UFC was hell-bent on keeping their machine moving. For this they conducted shows in empty arenas with only the essential staff required, the first example being a fight night in Brazil, with a more pronounced example coming at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Oliver who had restarted his show after shutting down the studio for a few weeks now conducted his shows in a similar manner to the UFC but with a significantly smaller staff. It was during one of these tapings that Oliver talked about sports in the era of the pandemic and the UFC got a major mention.
How Dana White had the last laugh in his beef with John Oliver
Oliver detailed on a segment of his show how White managed to make an “insane workaround “ for the travel restrictions placed on international fighters. The subject at hand was UFC’s plans for Fight Island, an isolated bubble at Yas Island Abu Dhabi where international fighters could be flown in and out of.
“The UFC is apparently building a faculty on a private island that they’re calling, Fight Island,” said Oliver describing the company’s loophole around travel restrictions. Oliver took offense at the naming however saying, “Now is it that a clever name? No, is it the perfect name? Yes because it’s the first thought an idiot would have if they wanted to name a private island where fights happen. “
Oliver then went on to suggest many alternative names he felt worked better including Brawlhamas, Puerto Ruckus, Owie Maui all plays on the real names of island nations. “He didn’t even go for the obvious name that you’d name an island to hold UFC fights, which is UF-Sea. Look at me Dana why didn’t you name it UF-Sea? It’s perfect”, said Oliver before he went on to point out the positive tests that occurred during the week of the event
Not one to take the insult lying down, White and the UFC perhaps upstaged Oliver in the best way possible. Shortly after Oliver’s show aired, the UFC went on to file an actual patent over the name UF-Sea. This should have been the end of it but to make it clear to the talk show host that White could go head to head on pettiness when it comes to insulting to his company but it wasn’t.
Shortly after filing for the patent, the UFC actually started merchandising shirts with the label UF-Sea on it. Oliver was left silent but had one last attack as he planned to make merchandise of his own, with the label “You will Submit” on baby onesies.
White actually described himself as a “huge fan” of John Oliver and said all proceeds from the UF-Sea shirt would be going straight to a charity close to Oliver.