The UFC took yet another step to define its political position with Donald Trump. And it’s a defining one.
On November 14th, the UFC premiered its newest documentary, “Combatant In Chief: The Story of Donald Trump and Combat Sports” to its online streaming service the UFC Fight Pass. The company has been celebrating it’s silver anniversary with the ongoing release of a 25-part documentary series entitled UFC25 Years in Short.
The compilation of short films represents 25 captivating UFC stories, one for each year of the promotion’s existence. They examine the organization’s amazing evolution, fascinating characters and lasting influence.
Directed by Adam Condal and Michael Hayden, the documentary chronicles when Donald Trump opened his Atlantic City casino to the struggling UFC, showcasing the start of an unlikely friendship between the current POTUS and Dana White and Trump’s role in legitimizing the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
Trump’s Taj Mahal hotel and casino hosted UFC 30 in Atlantic City in February 2001, making it the first UFC event held by its then new owners Zuffa, LLC (meaning “fight” in Italian), which purchased the promotion in January of that year. UFC 30 was also the first state-sanctioned UFC event held in New Jersey.
The UFC returned to Trump Taj Mahal in May 2001 with UFC 31, the first event held under the new Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. They were rules which the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board had adopted a month earlier.
“I’m never going to say anything bad about Donald Trump — ever. Ever, ever, ever,” White told “OBJECTified” host Harvey Levin. ” That guy gave us our start when nobody would talk to us.”
The UFC president backed Trump in a bombastic speech at the 2016 Republican national convention in Cleveland.
@POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @UFC’s @DanaWhite in the Oval Office earlier today at the @WhiteHouse….
The remarks came nine days after White announced the sale of the Ultimate Fighting Championship – the mixed martial arts promotion that he and now former co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta purchased for $2 million in 2001 – to a group led by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG for approximately $4 billion.
When MMA was still illegal in most states, White felt that Trump was one of the sport’s only supporters.
“No arenas wanted us,” White said of promotional efforts in the early 2000’s. “This guy reached out, and he’s always been a friend to me. The guy’s always been a friend of me. Donald Trump has never done anything remotely negative to me ever — except try to compete with me. I’m not going to say anything negative about him and I never have.”
In 2008, Trump would step into the MMA game himself by purchasing a stake in Affliction Entertainment, a promotion which hosted the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Vitor Belfort and Andrei Arlovski.
In recent times athletes like football Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Kanye West have all met with Trump to either discuss his positions or show solidarity with him as POTUS.
With the world of MMA still in flux with its general market as more champions and stars of color emerge, White and the UFC still seem extremely out of touch.