“I would never tell another human being what to do with their body,” White said.
“If you want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you. That’s your choice. You’re never gonna hear me say, I’m going to force people to get vaccinated. Never going to happen,” he added.
During a Fox News interview on Friday, White again voiced his perspective that leaves the choice of vaccination to each individual fighter.
“My fighters can get vaccinated or not,” White said, according to Fox News. “I believe as an American, that’s your choice. If you want to get vaccinated—it’s your body. This is a free country. You do what you want.”
The UFC president also said unvaccinated fans will be able to attend the sport’s events outside of New York. Currently, proof of vaccination is required to attend UFC events at Madison Square Arena due to the city’s COVID-19 policy.
White added that he thinks public opinion is turning against the mandates. “I think you see the tide starting to turn now. I even see some people who are on the … liberal side now starting to go ‘whoa, whoa, what are we doing here?’ … I think people just want some normalcy again.”
The comments are not the first time White had waded into political issues. A friend of former President Donald Trump, the UFC president spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention, speaking out against vaccine mandates.
“They’re telling you in New York you can’t go into a restaurant or a gym unless you’re vaccinated and can prove it and things like that,” White said during the event.
“Some people are getting fired if they don’t get vaccinated. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen here. You want to get vaccinated? Get vaccinated. If you don’t, that’s your decision, your body,” he added.
The comments offered a strong contrast to the leaders of other professional sports leagues across the nation. The NFL does not require a COVID-19 vaccine for players but has advised teams they could face penalties or even forfeiture of games over coronavirus outbreaks.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was informed by his health care provider that he was being dropped after he told the “Pat McAfee Show” he is unvaccinated and thinks the NFL rules regarding COVID-19 and vaccines “are not based in science at all.”
The joint announcement read: “Prevea Health and Aaron Rodgers have made the decision to end their partnership effective Nov. 6, 2021.
“Aaron has been a partner of Prevea Health, serving as a spokesperson and supporting the health care organization’s health and wellness initiatives throughout Wisconsin, since 2012.
“Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers, and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement continues. “This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.”
The NBA has taken strong action to enforce COVID-19 protocols. Brooklyn Nets all-star guard Kyrie Irving was recently banned from his team after refusing to comply with the Nets’ COVID-19 vaccination policy.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant. Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement from the Nets in October.
“Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability,” he added.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this article.