UFC Head Dana White Invites Donald Trump To Cage Fight At NYC's Madison Square Garden

Trump was an early UFC supporter.

Who Is Dana White? New Details On UFC Head Inviting Trump To UFC Fight Getty

Dana White was a little-known talent manager for some MMA fighters 20 years ago when he got the idea to purchase the Ultimate Fighting Championship League. He lined up investors and purchased the league, even though the previous owners had liquidated everything but the rights to the name to avoid bankruptcy. White took over and has built it into an MMA empire than generates tens of millions of dollars every year.


Known for his volatile personality and hands-on management of the league and the fighters, White is one of the most successful promoters in sports. This weekend, he's hosting UFC 244 in New York City which will feature some top-level fights as well as some top-level audience members. Rumor has it the President of the United States will be in attendance. Trump has long been a fan of wrestling, boxing and other fighting sports. Not only that, but he and White go way back. He provided a venue for one of the first UFC events after White took over the league.

Whos is Dana White? Read on for all the details. 


1. The BMF Belt Bout

The coming Saturday is going to major for UFC, TMZ reports. Madison Square Garden is booked for UFC 244, featuring a headline fight between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. The bout was already a big deal, with former pro-wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson scheduled to be on hand to give the winner the "Bad Mother F**ker" belt" at the end. New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft will also be in attendance. He could very well be sitting near Donald Trump since the president will be coming up to New York for the weekend to take a break from impeachment proceedings in D.C. 

Trump will be at the event.


2. Building a brand

This kind of high-level event was just a dream when White started with the UFC. He started his career in the MMA world as a manager. He was handing the careers of Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell when he got word that UFC for sale. He went to his childhood friend Lorenzo Fertitta with a proposal to buy the league. Fertitta and his brother Frank agreed to the deal and named White as the president of the league in 2001. Since then, White has built the brand into a multi-million dollar empire. The Fertittas eventually sold the league to a consortium of investors for $4.25 million. White stayed on as president after the sale.

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3. Building a compound

The UFC brand isn't the only thing White has been building. Since 2006, he has been buying up property in his Law Vegas neighborhood, reports Celebrity Net Worth. He bought his first home for his wife and three kids in 2006. Since then he has purchased three adjacent properties and filed for permits to demolish the structures on the land parcels. He keeps his family out of the spotlight so this may be an effort to increase their privacy. 

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4. Buddies with Trump

White and Trump have a long history together. In 2018, White told the Washington Times that Trump was there for him when he was first trying to build up the UFC. "That guy gave us our start when nobody would talk to us,” he said. “No arenas wanted us.” Trump still owned the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City at the time — he sold it at a massive loss in 2017, after twice filing for bankruptcy for it — and he arranged to host the first UFC fight after White took over the brand. That bought White's undying loyalty. 

“This guy reached out, and he’s always been a friend to me. The guy’s always been a friend of me," White recalls. "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.”

White was even a speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention when Trump was the party's presidential nominee. He praised the candidate's business record and work ethic before saying, "I’ve been in the fight business my whole life. I know fighters. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is a fighter and I know he will fight for this country.”

5. Tell-all memoir

White might not be willing to say anything negative about Trump but White's mom is more than willing to go negative on her son. In 2011, she released a memoir where she spoke derisively of the man she raised. She was shocked by the changes to his personality after he took over UFC and success started to affect him. "It is difficult for me to see how, as the popularity of the UFC evolved, the person I once knew changed into someone who is egotistical, self-centered, arrogant, and cruel,” she said. “Dana went from being a true friend, a good son, and a truly nice person to being a vindictive tyrant who lacks any feelings for how he treats others.” His mother saw the good in him when he was younger but classmates of his confirm that he always had a temper and tended toward selfishness. 


She said she tried to talk to her son about his behavior in his adult years but he wasn't receptive to her criticism, to say the least. “I felt like aliens had abducted my Dana and replaced him with this other person and that I wanted my old Dana back,” she wrote to him in an email.  White fired back, “Who the f*ck do you think you are, talking to me like that? No one talks to me that way.”

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6. Balm for Trump's feelings

While White probably would have invited Trump to a big fight no matter what, this is good timing for Trump to go to a sporting event with a friendly crowd. The last time he tried to take in a game was Sunday at Nationals Park in D.C. The Nats were playing the Astros in Game Five of the World Series and Trump decided to go watch the action. When an announcer introduced him, the stadium erupted in boos and chants of "Lock him up!"

Trump lost DC by 90 points in the 2016 election and since then has done nothing to make the city love him. He still owes DC $7 million for costs related to his inauguration and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had to beg Congress to repay the city's emergency fund after they depleted it providing security for Trump's 4th of July speech. 


New York City didn't give Trump much electoral love in 2016 either but UFC fans tend to support the embattled president. He can probably expect a much warmer welcome there than he got from Nats fans. 

The fight is set for this weekend. 


7. What's next for UFC

The next big event for UFC comes in December in Las Vegas. It will feature champion Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman, who were originally slated for the Madison Square Garden event but Dana White couldn't get the two fighters to agree to contract terms. He replaced them with Diaz and Masvidal while casting aspersions on Covington, saying: "You either wanna fight or you don’t. When Colby Covington’s ready to fight, he’ll let us know.”

Covington fired back saying "First off, his narrative was, ‘He’s ducking fights.’ Oh yeah, that’s why I took a fight with Robbie Lawler on three weeks’ notice and I didn’t even train for it because I had a cut and I saved your show — your desperate ESPN show that needed the ratings and needed someone to show up and save the day. I did that for you." 

The Covington-Usman fight is now scheduled for December but Covington is still hurling insults at White, saying White won't be permitted to give him the belt if he wins. "I can tell you who’s not wrapping it around my waist, and that will not be Dana White,” Covington told Submission Radio. “If he tries to wrap it around my waist, I’m gonna take the belt from him and slap him in the face with it.” White replied that Covington is a loudmouth who needs to shut up.

Whether there is actual animosity between the two men is up for grabs. What's for certain is that reports of a feud between a league president and a champion fighter are great publicity for an upcoming fight. 


Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.