UFC president Dana White endorses Donald Trump
“Ladies and gents, Donald Trump is a fighter, and I know he will fight for this country,”
Dana White, president of the mix martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship, speaks on day two of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Donald Trump, the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star, formally took control of the Republican Party on Tuesday as delegates to the convention here officially chose him as their nominee. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times
The remarks came nine days after White announced the sale of the Ultimate Fighting Championship – the mixed martial arts promotion that he and co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta purchased for $2m in 2001 – to a group led by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG for approximately $4bn.
White, who said he was “blown away and honored” by the invitation to speak, praised Trump for his support during the UFC’s early days, when MMA was branded as “human cockfighting” and outlawed in more than half of the United States.
“In 2001, my partners [Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta] and I bought the UFC, and it was basically considered a bloodsport. State athletic commissions didn’t support us. Arenas around the world refused to host our events. Nobody took us seriously. Nobody. Except Donald Trump. Donald was the first guy that recognized the potential that we saw in the UFC, and encouraged us to build our business.
“He hosted our first two events at [the Trump Taj Mahal], he dealt with us personally, he got in the trenches with us, and he made a deal that worked for everyone. On top of that, he showed up for the fight on Saturday night and sat in the front row. Yeah, he’s that guy. He shows up.
“Donald championed the UFC before it was popular, before it grew into a successful business, and I will always be so grateful to him for standing with us in those early days, so tonight I stand with Donald Trump.”
White went on to praise Trump’s business acumen, work ethic and steadfast friendship.
“Let me tell you three things that I respect about this man. First, Donald has great business instincts. He supports businesses of all sizes. He’ll make it possible for them to grow and succeed, which is the backbone of a strong economy.
“Second, Donald is a hard worker. This guy is going to get up there, he’s going to roll up his sleeves. He will work with people and he will put in the time to get things done.
“Third, for over 15 years, Donald Trump has been a loyal and supportive friend, and I know that if I needed Donald, he would be there for me, just like he was when I first met him. He’s one of these guys that sometimes he’ll pick up the phone and call me and say ‘Hey, good luck with the fights tonight. I’m going to be watching,’ or whatever it is that we might have going on.”
Last year White said he was “not a political guy at all, not even a little bit”, but praised Trump for his unwavering loyalty.
“Let me tell you something. I’ve been in the fight business my whole life. I know fighters. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is a fighter, and I know he will fight for this country.”