The public is unlikely to learn specifics of the physical altercation between UFC president Dana White and his wife, Anne White, at a nightclub in Mexico because of strict privacy laws that prohibit even the confirmation of a domestic-violence investigation.
A spokesperson for the Cabo San Lucas police department told ESPN that Mexican law holds details of domestic-violence cases as “very private.” The spokesperson could not say if department detectives were looking into the fight, at least some of which was captured on video, or if any complaints were filed.
The video, circulated widely online, shows the couple briefly conversing in the VIP section of a club on New Year’s Eve before Anne White slaps Dana White in the face. He then slaps her before the two are quickly separated.
Mexican police generally do not investigate domestic-violence cases unless a victim reports an assault and gives a statement about it, said Céline González, a political science professor who studies domestic violence at Mexico’s Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.
“The onus to bring evidence is always on the victim,” González told ESPN. “It’s her job to report, and in Mexico that process isn’t easy.”
The couple apologized in separate statements to TMZ in which they said it was an isolated incident, and that they’d both had too much to drink.
“People are going to have opinions on this, and most of the people’s opinions would be right, especially in my case,” White told TMZ. “You don’t put your hands on a woman, ever. … I don’t know why it happened.”
UFC has nothing to add to the statements, corporate communications vice president Chris Bellitti told ESPN. An agent for Endeavor Group Holdings, the UFC’s parent company, told ESPN its representatives would not speak on the matter.
While state and federal legislators have rewritten statutes in an attempt to improve domestic-assault-reporting rates, González said police investigations remain relatively rare, and many cases do not make it to trial.
In incidents like the Whites’, where both parties dealt blows, Mexican law would not automatically pin the blame on either person, González said, so authorities would have to decide on a case-by-case basis who was responsible.
Had the incident occurred in the couple’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada law would have required that police arrest whomever they determined to be the primary aggressor, University of Nevada-Las Vegas law professor Stewart Chang told ESPN.