Dan Le Batard on Dana White Credit: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on YouTube

After Dana White generated a massive spectacle over the weekend by entering a big ESPN-televised UFC fight night alongside Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, former ESPN host Dan Le Batard called out Disney for choosing to partner with someone who uses his sport for political statements after Disney tried for years to keep politics away from ESPN.

“It’s Disney,” Le Batard pointed out. “You got out of politics pretty good. You got out of politics after George Floyd, after sending corporate statements that suggested you weren’t going to be in this business.

“Now you are, whether you want to or not, because you can’t control his production company because he runs the whole thing. And he can flout it in your face with Disney’s backing.”

Disney-owned ESPN struck a deal in 2019 to make ESPN+ the exclusive pay-per-view provider of UFC. Throughout its history, UFC has produced television broadcasts of its own fights.

“You’ve gone into business with a production company that produces its own material,” Le Batard explained. “I cannot explain to you how much power Dana White has over everything that he’s executing, both at ESPN and in a sport where Vince MacMahon just cashed out.”

Because White and UFC control the broadcast, ESPN is along for the ride for a political stunt like UFC 295 saw in New York City over the weekend.

“(White) can now use Disney as a tool because he’s got so much power over this,” Le Batard said. “And (for) Disney, which is too woke, it’s Tucker Carlson, it’s Kid Rock, and it’s Donald Trump.”

After the Trump presidency and contentious 2020 election, ESPN overtly pivoted away from politics. Former hosts including Le Batard, Will Cain, and Jemele Hill left during the administration. ESPN has refocused on big personalities and entertainment in the years since.

In Le Batard’s home state, Disney is battling with the governor over LGBTQ+ issues and more. But on ESPN airwaves, Disney is being dragged back into politics because of its deal with White.

“In Florida, Disney is allegedly too woke,” Le Batard added. “But here, they are in bed with the person who’s governing the sewer. And the sewer disposes of these athletes in a way that profits him a great deal. And also (he) can troll job politically, publicly with Disney’s backing.”

Considering UFC is a huge part of the ESPN+ business model, this is unlikely to change. In fact, expect Disney to pursue WWE rights and expand its partnership with UFC parent Endeavor following the UFC-WWE merger. And expect White to continue bringing attention to ESPN and Disney they might prefer to avoid.

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.