Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White spoke at the Republican National Convention on behalf of Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, on Tuesday evening (July 19, 2016) in Cleveland, Ohio.
White, 46, addressed the crowd when he took the podium by saying, "What's up GOP?" and said he would tell those in attendance about the Donald Trump that he knew.
The UFC president began his speech by mentioning when he and the Fertitta brothers first conducted business with Trump after they took over the UFC in 2001. Both UFC 30 and UFC 31 events were held at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and White expressed his gratitude and appreciation for Trump's willingness to host the promotion during the dark days of the sport.
"In 2001 my partners and I bought the UFC and it was basically considered a blood sport," said White. "State athletic commissions didn't support us, arenas around the world refused to host our events. 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. He hosted our first two events at his venue; He dealt with us personally. He got in the trenches with us and he made a deal that worked for everyone. On top of that, he showed up for the fight on Saturday night and sat in the front row. Yeah, he's that guy. He shows up. Donald championed the UFC before it was popular, before it grew into a successful business and I will always be grateful--so grateful--to him for standing with us in those early days. So tonight, I stand with Donald Trump."
White said the three things he respects most about Trump is that he has "great business instincts," is a "hard worker," and said for 15 years Trump has been a "loyal and supportive friend."
"I know if I needed Donald he would be there for me just like he was when I first met him," White said. "He's one of these guys that sometimes he will pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, good luck with the fights tonight. I'm going to be watching,' or whatever it is that we might have going on, and he always reaches out to me when something has happened in my career."
Trump's interest in White and the UFC is "personal," White made sure to mention. And White says that is what really shows Trump's "true character" because he is genuinely happy for the UFC's success. The Republican nominee's "sense of loyalty and commitment will translate into how he will run this country," White said.
White closed his near four-minute speech by saying Trump is just as much a fighter as those he's seen compete inside the Octagon and throughout his career as a fight promoter.
"Let's be honest folks. We need somebody who believes in this country. We need somebody who is proud of this country and who will fight for this country. Let me tell you something. I've been in the fight business my whole life. I know fighters. Ladies and gentleman, Donald Trump is a fighter and I know he will fight for this country. Thank you very much have a great evening."