Donald Trump congratulated UFC for being first sport back, says Dana White

White on his phone call with Trump: "I thought it was very nice of him. Cool, but very typical of him. This guy has been awesome to me for 20 years"

Monday 11 May 2020 19:04, UK

Dana White UFC 1:53
White was proud of pulling off the show

Dana White says Donald Trump called him to congratulate UFC on being the first sport to return in America amid the coronavirus pandemic.

UFC 249 was held behind closed doors in Florida on Saturday, after a previously unsuccessful attempt to stage it in California.

White, who says his organisation have given a blueprint of how sport can return, added that it was "nice" but "typical" of the president to call him personally to congratulate him on staging the event.

"I talked to the president tonight," White said on Saturday. "He wants sports back. He wants to do it in these phases.

"He thinks that sports needs to come back first, then figure out how to get people back to work and then figure out how to get kids back in school. And we came out and we were first. He congratulated us on being first.

"I thought it was very nice of him. Cool, but very typical of him. This guy has been awesome to me for 20 years."

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - FEBRUARY 20: Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White greets President Donald Trump on stage during a Keep America Great rally on February 20, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Cory Gardner, a first-term Republican up for reelection this year, joined Trump at the rally. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Image: Dana White says Donald Trump has "been awesome to me for 20 years"

White added that a number of other sporting associations reached out to the UFC, as they observed how the MMA promotion handled the event and what can be learned from the week.

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"We can share what we learned here, doing three events, with other sports leagues, who are reaching out and asking," he said.

"A number of sports leagues, and states asking us. A lot can be learned from what we're doing here, not just for professional sports but for sending people back to work and lots of other things in life.

"You know the whole world is weird right now, everything's weird, this whole event's weird.

"We live in a different world than we did two months ago and the bottom line is the system worked."

The event was held in an empty arena
Image: The event was held in an empty arena

The event wasn't without its hiccups, as light-heavyweight fighter Jacare Souza was pulled from the card at late notice after testing positive for COVID-19, but White felt that this was identified and acted upon in a satisfactory manner.

"The system, you want to find people that [tested positive], you know, what you don't want to do is two days after the fight say 'oh sh***, Jacare tested positive.' So it worked, the system worked that we put in place," he said.

We're really good at what we do
White feels the UFC has set an example

"We're really good at what we do. We're very, very good at what we do and the way that this week went will just get better. [It] will get better by Wednesday, then we'll be better by Saturday, and then after Saturday we'll start to catch our stride and really get this thing dialled in and get it figured out.

"And the longer this goes, the better the testing technology is going to get, and the faster it will get and we're going to prove by next Saturday that professional sports can come back safely.

"However it was handled this week, it was our first week. Like I said, we'll be better on Wednesday, we'll be better Saturday and so on and so on."