You won’t hear a bad word about President Trump come out of Dana White’s mouth. That has been the consistent response from the Ultimate Fighting Championship boss when asked about the reality-star-turned-commander-in-chief since Trump announced he was running for the Republication nomination in 2015. In an interview with the Boston Herald last week, White doubled down on that sentiment, going on to express “disgust” at those protesting against the current White House and revealing that he had spoken to Trump up to 20 times since he won the election.
The friendship between Trump and White and the corresponding proximity of the UFC to the halls of power has perhaps been an under-scrutinized aspect of the contemporary mixed martial arts landscape. Whereas the NBA and the NFL have been engulfed by highly politicized storylines involving the president — the former personified by Trump’s Twitter spats with LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the latter by the #TakeaKnee movement, where Trump repeatedly condemned hundreds of players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality — MMA has had no such incitation. In fact, members of the MMA media who do offer political insights are routinely met by a torrent of comments demanding that they “stick to sports.” This kind of cognitive isolationism was on display in all quarters of the Internet after MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani asked Cameroonian Francis Ngannou about his thoughts on Trump’s alleged “s—hole” comments regarding African countries.
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