Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced that he is voting for Donald Trump. In explaining his endorsement, White did not speak to Trump’s proposal to bar entry of Muslims into the country, or any other aspect of Trump’s platform. Instead, White cited Trump’s support of the UFC starting in its early years. Indeed, this past weekend Trump posted multiple Tweets saying he was watching the UFC’s pay-per-view and expressing his pride at how far White and his organization have come.
Now as I have said before, it baffles me that anyone would endorse Trump. But in White’s case, what really surprises me is how tactless that is on the part of both endorser and endorsee, given the ownership structure of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The UFC is owned by Zuffa LLC. In 2010, the company Flash Entertainment purchased a 10% stake in Zuffa.
Why is this all noteworthy? Because Flash Entertainment is wholly owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.
So White is endorsing someone who would bar some of the UFC’s own investors, and many of their friends or family, from entering the US. Why on earth would he want that? What if a Flash executive wanted to check on its investment, or simply go with a friend to, say, a UFC fight in Las Vegas?
Already, other businesses in Muslim countries are disassociating from Trump. The Dubai-based chain Lifestyle has halted all sales of Trump-branded merchandise, and the owner of Trump Towers Istanbul is actively looking into ending its licensing deal. So would Flash Entertainment want to invest in a company whose public face is endorsing Donald Trump?
(Neither UFC nor Flash Entertainment responded to my requests for comment.)
For that matter, why would Trump want to be associated with someone doing business with Abu Dhabi, given all his anti-Muslim rhetoric? Granted, his company has had no qualms about doing business in the UAE in recent years, though lately he has been taking shots at Saudi Arabia, including calling a Saudi prince “dopey,” and I cannot imagine he would have a vastly different opinion of another Muslim country in the region.
So perhaps Dana White and Donald Trump should have thought this out before publicizing an endorsement.