Last week, the Democratic National Convention was broadcast live over the internet from around the nation. The event featured a host of political speakers, including former presidents, as well as celebrities like Eva Longoria, Tracy Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. This week, Republicans are taking center stage with their own list of political and public figures. Alongside many current cabinet members and conservative notables were reports of a few not quite so politically notable names—like former NFL star (and brief MMA fighter) Heschel Walker, as well as fellow former NFL players Jack Brewer and Burgess Owens.
The list of 2020 RNC speakers also includes none other than UFC president Dana White. White had a speaking slot in the 2016 convention as well, telling the crowd, “I’m sure most of you are wondering, ‘What are you doing here?’”
“I am not a politician, I am a fight promoter,” White continued in his 2016 speech. “I wanted to show up and tell you about my friend, Donald Trump—the Donald Trump that I know.” White went on to talk about purchasing the UFC, with the Fertittas, and how Trump was the only person to take their “blood sport” seriously. “Donald was the first guy that recognized the potential that we saw in the UFC, and encouraged us to build our business.”
As White then noted, the Trump Taj Mahal played host to the first two UFC events under their new Zuffa ownership back in 2001—UFC 30: Battle at the Boardwalk, and UFC 31: Locked and Loaded. While White’s friendship with Trump rarely appeared to be a major talking point of the UFC’s history in years past (the two men were even business rivals during Afflictions brief dip into MMA promotion), in the months leading up to Trump’s 2016 presidential victory – and in the years since – Dana White has emphasized it as a much more significant part of the promotion’s history.
When the UFC raced back to holding events in Florida, after COVID-19 lockdown measures lead to the cancellation of a string of fight cards in March and April, Trump welcomed the promotion back to business with a prerecorded message.
“I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC,” Trump said in a video short video broadcast live during UFC 249. “They’re going to have a big match. We love it, we think it’s important. Get the sports leagues back. Let’s play. Do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do, but we need sports. We want our sports back. And congratulations to Dana White, UFC.”
White even got a seat on Trump’s task force aimed at how to restart America’s sports leagues in the early stages of the US’s pandemic response. All of which appears to have paid off big for the UFC president, who is currently set to be one of the last speakers of this year’s RNC, just before Trump’s acceptance speech for his 2020 presidential nomination. That practically guarantees that the leader of the world’s largest MMA promotion is going to have a massive platform to advertise the UFC and its fighters.
And that’s why sports-book BetOnline has opened up a whole series of odds on White’s 2020 convention speech, including how often he’ll mention fights, fighters, or fighting (the over/under is set at 8.5) and whether or not he’ll name drop any current UFC talent. Here’s the complete list of lines available for anyone looking to get a piece of the action (h/t TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter):
Will Dana mention President Trump attended UFC event?
Yes +200 (2/1)
No -300 (1/3)
Total times Dana White says “Trump”
Will Dana White say “Donald”?
Yes -120 (5/6)
No -120 (5/6)
Will Dana White say “Make America Great Again”?
Yes +300 (3/1)
No -500 (1/5)
Total times Dana White says “Fights(s)”, “Fighter(s)”, “Fighting”
Will Dana White mention a current UFC fighter’s name?
Yes +400 (2/1)
No -700 (1/3)
Total times Dana White says “UFC”
What will Dana White say first?
Ultimate Fighting Championship -300 (1/3)
UFC +200 (2/1)
Dana White’s Primary Shirt Color
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