Sport and politics are a toxic mix. Yet as Donald Trump’s barely believable rise to power in the United States continues, it seemed fitting to wheel out a passionate cage fighting enthusiast to keep voters swinging wildly in the dark.
In many ways, last week’s Republican National Convention was tailor made for UFC co-founder Dana White. A crowd of bloodthirsty hot heads were in attendance to roar their approval at the gory action unfolding before them.
Though the man who’s been pulling all the punches is Trump: a heavyweight personality smacking America’s sensibilities into submission. In November he could, amazingly, succeed President Barack Obama.
White had no problem in administering some seriously heavy blows of his own. It must be noted that the pair have enjoyed a longstanding relationship which had endured some rocky patches.
When the UFC was straining for credibility and legal licenses during the early days, Trump was on hand. He took White’s fighting circus to his casinos in Atlantic City , a stepping stone which culminated in the recent $4 billion sale to sports entertainment group WME-IMG.
In 2008 , the UFC and Affliction MMA – whose major shareholder was Trump – were going head-to-head in a ratings war. It was a tussle until Affliction, initially solely a clothing company, folded and returned to sponsor their rivals.
“Arenas around the world refused to host our events,” White roared. “Nobody took us seriously; nobody except Donald Trump.
“Donald was the first guy that recognised the potential we saw in the UFC and encouraged us to build our business. I think that sense of loyalty and commitment will translate into how he will run this country. And let’s be honest folks, we need somebody who believes in this country, we need somebody who’s proud of this country and who will fight for this country. He will work with people.”
While most staunch Republicans were googling ‘Dana White’, his Trump love-in continued.
“I’ve been in the fight business my whole life,” he loudly gushed. “I know fighters. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is a fighter.”
Strong words from someone who stressed last year that he wasn’t a political man who believed in everything his old friend – and his rivals – campaign for. Hell, what effects would strong public beliefs have on UFC’s market value?
White’s amazing rise to fame and fortune strikes a chord with Trump. The Las Vegas resident isn’t one to cower to the establishment. He’s a scrapper. Someone not afraid to ruffle feathers and bruise egos – that is Trump in a nutshell.
In Virginia last month , he attempted to integrate sport into his campaign by promising to unleash “some of the great sports people who like me a lot” on the journey to Capitol Hill.
NASCAR chief Brian France became involved and quickly wished he hadn’t. Tom Brady was also mentioned. The New England Patriot sensibly decided to concentrate on deflated balls rather than deranged political aspersions.
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton was wheeled out on Thursday to get the party started. Another hanger-on who wasn’t brought in for his views on eliminating famine in the developing world.
Trump’s vow of bringing in speakers instead of “politicians who are going to get up and speak and speak” says everything about his attempts to brainwash millions who don’t know any better.
Dana White's case for Trump: He's my friend and he's nice to me. And the PBS crew seems ... bemused? By his mere presence? Strange times.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) July 20, 2016
Trump isn’t a politician. He’s a businessman with famous friends who shout a lot and tell heart-warming tales of kindness.
The UFC has nothing to do with the looming political crisis which is manifesting itself with their strangely-haired friend mounting his befuddling presidential push.
The organisation, however, strikes chords with sports fans and a younger demographic who need guidance when it comes to voting for a politician who will shape their futures.
And, after all, Dana White House does have a certain ring to it.
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