Over the past year, notable combat sports figures have voiced support for Trump’s campaign, including former UFC champions Miesha Tate, Tito Ortiz, and Chris Weidman, as well as former two-division title contenders like Chael Sonnen. However, none were more noticeable than UFC president Dana White’s brash support for the highly controversial president-elect.
Several months ago, White stood in front of the Grand Old Party (GOP) Republican National Convention and praised Donald Trump in a deafening speech. He was also pictured at the campaign celebration at Trump Towers following the Republican candidate’s victory on election night, which seemingly highlighted White’s close relationship with the incoming president.
“This guy keeps his word like nobody I’ve ever dealt with,” White said in a recent interview promoting UFC 207. “He is just such a good guy. He asked me to speak at the RNC and I was treated well. Then the elections happen and I’m staying at the Peninsula Hotel. Hillary Clinton is at my hotel and directly across the street is Trump Towers. I’m talking to my partners, the Fertitta brothers who do exist, on the phone and going back and forth. Then Ivanka [Trump’s] husband calls me and says ‘we’re going to win this thing. My father-in-law loves you. Go down to the Hilton and meet us for the celebration party.’
“This guy just won. Nobody thought it would happen. They were basically calling Hillary the president and then this guy thinks of me? He calls me to come out there? This is the kind of guy that he is.”
White also added that Trump was interested in attending the UFC’s debut event in New York that same week, though was talked out of it by the secret service.
“He wanted to come to this thing so bad,” White explained. “He called me and said ‘listen, the secret service think it is a really bad idea and they also think I am going to ruin your event if I show up. Secret service is going to have to rip that place apart. They’re going to shut down streets and do all this other stuff.”
As the president of an organization with a significant percentage of Latin Americans and Muslim fighters (segments that Trump has repeatedly insulted), White’s vocal support for Trump sent a powerful message as to the UFC’s stance on the rights of minorities. Yet while many question Trump’s capabilities as president of a hegemonic power, White believes his own personal experience with Trump is enough of a litmus test to gauge his presidentiality.
“He calls me twice a month. We still talk twice a month. He’ll talk about the fight that just happened the other day. I’m telling you I’ve dealt with him for 16 years and everything about this guy has been as stand-up as stand-up can be.”