In a speech that might be best remembered for its sheer volume, UFC President Dana White gave a full-throated endorsement of freshly minted GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday at the Republican National Convention.
During his speech, delivered before Republican delegates in Cleveland just minutes after Trump's official nomination, White steered well clear of the issues that have defined Trump and this election cycle for the Republican Party, instead focusing on his long-standing relationship with Trump.
"I’ve been in the fight business my whole life. I know fighters," White said during his speech, which was broadcast live by several television and online outlets. "Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is a fighter, and I know he’ll fight for this country."
White's support reciprocates the backing Trump gave the UFC after White and his business partners, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, purchased the then-struggling company back in 2001. The first and second UFC events after that purchase were both hosted by the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
"Arenas around the world refused to host our events," White said in his speech. "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."
It made sense for the brief remarks to avoid political discourse of any kind, given that Trump's policy positions could be bad for the UFC's business. Among other stances, Trump has indicated a desire to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and force Mexico to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Leaders with the UFC, which was recently purchased for $4 billion by the WME-IMG entertainment talent agency, have repeatedly expressed a desire to expand internationally, including into the combat-sports hotbed of Mexico. White's association with Trump, even if done in relatively apolitical fashion, could be seen as indirectly supporting Trump's foreign-policy ideas, which are deeply unpopular in Mexico and beyond.
To this point, however, there has been no substantial backlash to White's appearance at the RNC, and it is entirely unclear whether or to what extent such opposition will materialize.
Ultimately, White played it safe, bellowing into the microphone that he believed Trump to be the best presidential candidate as a result of Trump's business background and loyalty to associates like White and the UFC.
“In my opinion, you can really tell a person’s true character when they’re happy for somebody else’s success," White said. "And I think that sense of loyalty and commitment will translate into how [Trump] will run this country."