Former President Donald Trump sat down with previous UFC champion Matt Serra and co-host Jim Norton during an episode of UFC Unfiltered on Tuesday. Trump– a longtime battle fan– opted not to talk politics for the entire 36-minute interview and rather discussed his history of hosting high-profile boxing and MMA occasions.
Blended martial arts faced an uphill struggle when promoters were attempting to get developed in the United States due to perceptions of the sport. Athletic commissions compared it to Roman gladiator video games and would not sanction it, which forced promos, consisting of the UFC, to host lots of early events on Native American reservations.
The sport also received pushback from political leaders on both sides of the aisle, consisting of the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who as soon as referred to mixed martial arts as “human cockfighting.” McCain would go on to alter his mind after learning more about the sport years later on.
In 2001, the promotion was obtained by Zuffa LLC from Semaphore Entertainment Group, who were on the verge of bankruptcy. The promotion struggled to find a location for its huge UFC 30 card until Trump offered to host the fights at his Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.
The Donald went on to host a handful of occasions in the early 2000’s as the sport started to acquire mainstream traction. As a result, UFC president Dana White has credited Trump with conserving the promotion and has stayed a strong supporter.
The former president described his relationship with the UFC throughout the interview with Serra and Norton. “So … in some way I was familiar with Dana and uh … a whole group of individuals that enjoyed it and actually liking it and I respected them and I appreciated Dana– a lot. And you know that household’s a great household that helped Dana out, fine? We do not have to mention names however that household is great and they’ve been with me right from the beginning,” Trump stated.
“They couldn’t get a venue because of the danger. You know, people thought it was so dangerous and occurred to be right about that. But they couldn’t get a venue and I provided them with a location and I believe it was for a few of the battles– maybe even five, early battles,” he continued.
The former president also talked boxing thoroughly and provided a number of behind-the-scenes information about the innerworkings of the sport. Several high-profile boxing matches were held at Trump’s casinos, the most notable being the essential Heavyweight title fight in between Michael Spinks and Mike Tyson.
The highly anticipated battle was over rapidly as Tyson knocked Spinks down twice enroute to a first-round-knockout. Trump joked that lots of people who had come from “all over the world” were upset and requiring refunds because the centerpiece was over so quickly.