Analyzing Dana White’s philosophy on trainers

UFC President Dana White made a rather interesting statement in regards to his philosophy on trainers during his interview on “UFC Tonight” Tuesday. White said:

“This is my philosophy on trainers too. You need a good trainer, a guy who’s going to be there for you, a guy who’s going to be there for you, who can kind of keep you in line and keep you training and everything else. [But] Trainers don’t make fighters. Talented fighters make trainers, and that’s a fact. “

In a sense you can understand the statement. I mean, would John Hackleman be as well-known without Chuck Liddell? Would Greg Jackson have become as popular without his who’s who list of champions and former champions?

But then again, could these fighters have reached their full potential without the guidance of a skilled coach?

I know as much about training fighters as I do about replacing a carburetor — not a damn thing. So when I’m posed with a problem I don’t know the answer to, I defer to those more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. In this case, I Skyped up 2004 Olympian and Strength and Conditioning Coach Dr. Rhadi Ferguson, who happened to be on location training a couple UFC fighters, to get his thoughts on the UFC promoter’s statement.

“Well, I’m not sure what you want me to say concerning this topic, but let me just go on record as saying that you are asking me to comment on a statement made by a man that called soccer the least talented sport on Earth,” he said. “So while this doesn’t really deserve my time…here’s my answer. The research per Ericcson on talent and practice refute Mr.White’s argument, as do the books Talent Code by Coyle, Outliers by Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Colvin.”

Those were my thoughts exactly.

He continued, “Talent although important is an overrated factor and not as important as practice and honing one’s skill, and that honing of skill is only created by structuring sound deliberate practice models. MMA is still in its infancy stages when compared to other sports, so the coaching, training, and practice modalities and methodologies in most cases are not sound and thus it provides the appearance in many cases that it’s just a talent based issue in terms of the outcome of fights. And most fans, like Mr. White — who is categorically a fan based upon his lack of knowledge on this particular subject — are uninformed about the nuances of sport and sport development. So no I don’t agree with the statement, but it sounds great when you say it at a dinner table or in print around and to people who don’t know any better. But I do. Trust me…. I’m a doctor.”

“In a general conversation Dana White is 100 percent correct. … When it comes to elite population and elite sports, he is incorrect. And the reason he is incorrect is because at the elite level the fighters are all talented and the differential is usually the coaching, the training, the preparation or lack thereof. … It has to do with the training, the leadership, the coaching and the athlete’s ability to follow directions and instructions based upon the commander that provides them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a chicken and egg argument. Someone could not be there if they don’t have the talent. If you don’t have the talent you can’t win the Super Bowl. But you can have the talent and poor coaching and lose the Super Bowl. We’ve seen that happen and we’ve also seen less talented teams with great coaches win.”

Well there you’ve heard it. Maybe you have some thoughts on the subject too. You can share them by leaving a comment below.

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson is a recognized High Performance Enhancement Specialist centered in education, business and sport. Utilizing his proven background as an Olympian and lecturing motivator, Dr. Ferguson course corrects systems, modifies curriculum initiatives and constructs strategic framework toward improving performance and elevating desired outcomes. For more information visit: and