UFC President Says Trump Wanted to Attend Fight the Day After 2016 Election
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White said that President Donald Trump wanted to attend a fight the day after he was elected president in 2016.
Trump called him and expressed the desire after beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White said.
“When he was elected, he called me the night he was elected, and told me to get down to the party, the afterparty, and I went. And he wanted to go to the Conor McGregor fight the next night. And obviously, he didn’t know what he didn’t know at the time, how crazy it’d be,” White told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.
“And then he called me the next morning and said, ‘you know what, I’m going to ruin your event if I go. I think it’ll ruin it, and they’ll have to shut everything down and I don’t think it’s a good idea. Let’s plan this again when there’s more time to plan.’”
White noted that Trump was a big supporter of the UFC in the company’s early days, letting the company hold its first fights at Trump Taj Mahal, a Trump venue that was open until 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Trump attended those fights and went to another early fight at the Meadowlands.
“Everything that ever happened to me in my career, Trump was the first guy to pick up the phone and get back to me,” White said. He later called him the “most stand-up guy.”
Trump and sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attended the UFC fight at Madison Square Garden over the weekend.
After winning the fight, Derrick Lewis said Trump’s attending the fight “was pretty cool.”
“I wish [Barack] Obama woulda did that, but it is what it is. But I think that was pretty cool.”
White, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of Trump during the 2016 election, said that it was a “big night for the sport.”
He said that when Trump walked into the main arena to attend the mixed martial arts event, it was an unforgettable moment.
“I’ve walked out of that tunnel for the last 20 years [and] I’ve never [expletive] seen anything like that in my life like tonight, when I walked out of that tunnel with him,” White told reporters. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live. It was crazy.”
“Tonight wasn’t about how you feel politically about the president,” he added. “We weren’t legal in New York because of some political [expletive] a few years ago. Tonight, the president of the United States was here, watching a UFC event.”