New York Times White House correspondent wrote on Twitter late Tuesday: “Trump is tentatively scheduled to go to NYC to attend an MMA event at Madison Square Garden on Sat. night, per sources. Stay over at Trump Tower. Great news for traffic on NYC Marathon Sunday.”
UFC has yet to confirm Trump’s attendance.
The upcoming MMA pay-per-view event, UFC 244, will be headlined by welterweights Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz who will battle for the BMF title. It will mark the 500th live UFC event.
Trump has been a long-time supporter of the UFC, dating back to when he first hosted a UFC event—UFC 28—at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City on Nov. 17, 2000.
At the time, MMA fighting was banned in most parts of the United States and MMA events were rejected in major venues.
According to the Press of Atlantic City: “Prior to UFC 28 at the Taj Mahal on Nov. 17, 2000, the UFC was struggling to gain respect. Some states refused or were reluctant to sanction shows for a sport that had been labeled as barbaric by critics.”
Now, UFC is the largest MMA promotion company in the world.
UFC President Dana White, who has been in the role since 2001, spoke at the Republican National Conference in 2016 in support of the president. White said Trump was one of the only and first people to support the UFC when it was acquired by Zuffa.
“In 2001, my partners [Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta] and I bought the UFC, and it was basically considered a bloodsport. State athletic commissions didn’t support us. Arenas around the world refused to host our events,” White told the crowd at the time.
“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 [UFC 30 and 31] at his venue [Trump Taj Mahal], 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!”
In 2013, Trump was inducted into New Jersey State Martial Arts Hall of Fame as a “visionary.”
“Donald Trump was an early supporter of MMA in the state of New Jersey … Mr. Trump’s involvement and acceptance of the sport greatly assisted the growth of MMA,” its website states.
White told Fox News in 2018: “I’m never going to say anything bad about Donald Trump—ever, ever, ever. That guy gave us our start when nobody would talk to us. … No arenas wanted us. [Trump] reached out and he’s always been a friend to me. The guy’s always been a friend to me.”
White had invited Trump in 2016 to a UFC fight in Madison Square Garden but ultimately didn’t come due to his Secret Service expressing security concerns at the time, reported the New York Post.