Mixed Martial Law
Viewing President Trump through the lens of President White.
“Fighting is in our DNA” —Dana White, UFC President
At the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep went looking for a fight. While calling out @PEOTUS for being an awful human being, she argued that “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
MMA heads were caught off guard by what seemed like a throwaway example of mindless violent entertainment that’s apparently ruining our society. Something your mom would awkwardly lump into an otherwise sound rant.
Rightly so, many MMA figures spoke out in defense of the sport. Anyone who loves the art, and yes it is an art, understands that writing off MMA as a symptom of Trump’s America is ridiculous and offensive. Like hip-hop, MMA is a global phenomenon with all nations, races & religions.
However, Streep had a point. Not so much about the sport itself, but the tone it sets for how we do business in America. It’s not difficult to view the Donald Trump Presidency through the lens of another president who knows all about being an authoritarian strongman Dana White.
At the Republican National Convention last summer, ‘The Baldfather’ delivered a full-throated endorsement. Of all the deplorables who blessed the RNC stage, White offers the closest parallel to the 45th POTUS.
Like Trump, White is an effective promoter and entertainer. The former aerobics instructor prides himself as the anti-establishment pseudo tough guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. His style is more Sammy the Bull than Roger Goodell, with tactics pulled right out of the Donald Trump playbook. With PED-enhanced broad shoulders that would make Mike Pence drool, White lambasts adversaries and pathologically lies as a negotiation tactic.
He’s also into petulant name calling. Former MMA promoter, Bjorn Rebney – who Dana refers to as “Bjork” – is attempting to build something of a fighter’s union called the MMA Athletes Association. Dana’s take: “The only thing I need to know is the biggest scumbag in the history of combat sports, Bjork, is involved in this thing.” Unfair!
Though he hasn’t openly mocked any disabled reporters, White intimidates journalists and strips critical ones of their credentials. Just ask Ariel Helwani who went on his own PR campaign to retain access after being escorted out of UFC 199 in June for reporting on Brock Lesnar’s return. Oh, the dishonest media.
White also mimics Trump’s Twitter tactics to curse and berate any egghead that dares throw shade. “Dork” “Moron” “Pussy” is the extent of his rebuttals.
More importantly, White has also made a pretty penny off the backs of people who literally break their backs for a living. Like Trump, he’s helped usher in a new norm of no-holds barred business.
If you’ve ever watched an MMA fight in a bar with people who don’t watch MMA, you’ll realize how desensitized you’ve become as others squirm at blood pouring down faces, limbs being manipulated, concussions celebrated. It’s brutalful.
Like the UFC, Trump brought brutality into mainstream entertainment like never before. When he shit all over the GOP contenders with unhinged disrespect, it was a train wreck that was must-see TV. Watching the debates, it felt like a Bob Sapp freak show – an abnormal spectacle that becomes a guilty pleasure.
But just as MMA gradually lost its shock value and became legitimized – with champions, rules, divisions, USADA testing – so did the blows and hate coming from Trump’s rallies. What once made us uncomfortable became familiar. At a rally in Florida, Trump suggested we’ve gotten “soft” on concussions. Little did we know 46.5% of voters were suffering from brain damage.
As Nick Diaz would say, White and Trump are both selling wolf tickets. Instigating a fight to cash out and leave the gladiators with no reasonable health insurance, social security or union.
Like Trump, the UFC’s revival came from the help of a millionaire dad. The father of Dana’s childhood homie, Lorenzo Fertitta, laid the financial groundwork for a business that would later sell for $4 billion. Likewise, Trump borrowed $4 million from his father before filing for bankruptcy twice and likely borrowing from foreign entities while ducking taxes. But apparently, we all live in a bubble.
As business owners, both have done everything to remove power from the workers. The long legislative battle to legalize MMA in New York was not about the sport’s health risks – it was about workers’ rights. The Culinary Union has been locked in a battle with the Fertittas’ Station Casinos, which busts unions like it’s Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort. While it’s awesome to see MMA finally arrive in the Empire State, the underlying politics should not be ignored.
While both men endorse policies that are detrimental to immigrants and women, they both rely on these demographics for profit. The most popular UFC fighter in the world is from Ireland; second most popular – a woman. While the latter have both expressed disgust at the President Elect in the past, they’re in a league of their own.
If you’re looking for MMA fighters to take the Colin Kaepernick route, you’ll probably want to go train with anarchist Jeff Monson or MMA amateur, CM Punk – who voiced his concerns on The MMA Hour. For the most part, MMA fighters have been in line with the bully behind the pulpit. #MMAGA
White’s long-time nemesis, Tito Ortiz, proudly stood behind Trump at a rally in Anaheim. Although he carries a Mexican and American flag when he walks to the cage, it didn’t stop the OC-native from chanting “build that wall!”
In a pre-fight interview with MMA Fighting, high energy journeyman, Clay Guida, declared his loyalty to the pussy-grabber by offering his skillset: ”Donald Trump, if you’re looking for security, I’m your guy,” declared Guida. He went on to get knocked out with a knee in the third round.
Four years after Hurricane Sandy devastated his Long Island home, former UFC Middleweight Champion, Chris Weidman, announced his support for Trump. “He’s a little over the top,” Weidman admitted on MMA Digest. “But a lot of the stuff he says is on the money.” Apparently, global warming is for pussies.
Convicted conman and aspiring GOP Representative, Chael Sonnen, vouched for Trump from the gate.
I’m a huge supporter of Trump,” Sonnen told FOX Sports. “When people talk about him, I hear all these political analysts, they’re just terrible.” For all his clout, the gangster from West Linn couldn’t help Trump secure his home state of Oregon, which went for Hillary Clinton by a double-digit margin.
Jon Jones, who seems to get pulled over more often than Philando Castile, was the only one who took a cue from Kaepernick: he didn’t even bother to vote.
Like the hip-hop community or the Hollywood crowd, no one expects our entertainers to be our saviors or moral compass. Nor would we expect Dana White to be a beacon of ethical leadership. But it represents a philosophy that is soon taking the Oval Office and shaping our attitudes towards one another. A society where power is achieved through brute force. Where lies are tactics of control. Where it’s every man for himself. No safety nets. Survival of the fittest.
MMA is not the problem; nor is democracy. But when the leadership embraces the dark principles of authoritarianism, it will take more than Meryl Streep to fight back.