President Donald Trumps decision to attend UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden in New York “was a big night” for the sport, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White said.
White said that when Trump walked into the main arena to attend the mixed martial arts event, it was an unforgettable moment. “Ive walked out of that tunnel for the last 20 years [and] Ive never [expletive] seen anything like that in my life like tonight, when I walked out of that tunnel with him,” White said. “Ill never forget it as long as I live. It was crazy.”
And for the sport of mixed martial arts, White said it was a landmark night to see a president of the United States in attendance. The first UFC event was held in the early 1990s and was described by some U.S. politicians as “human cockfighting” and was later banned in the state of New York.
“Tonight wasnt about how you feel politically about the president,” he said. “We werent 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.”
“Whoever you are, this is America. You can believe or do whatever you want. If you want to boo, you can boo,” White told reporters after the event, about the crowds reaction to the president, which might be called mixed.
“As an American, you can do whatever you want to do, and you can choose whatever side you want to be on. So I just felt like tonight, we were going to walk in and whatever happened, happened. The guy told me as a friend, he was coming to see the fights, and he did tonight, and I appreciate him, and it was a big night for the sport.”
White also made note of how security was handled.
“They wanted him in a suite, of course, (but) he doesnt listen to them. He does what he wants to do. But yeah, they wanted him in a suite. Im not an expert in security, but I think its a lot easier to protect him in a suite than it is in the second row. But, again, a testament to our fans. Its our president. Its the president of the United States, man. And tonight, I was happy and proud that the crowd here in New York treated him with respect and just made the night so much cooler. Everything was so cool tonight,” he said.
White noted that Trump has been a longtime supporter of MMA and the UFC.