UFC president Dana White told Sean Hannity on Monday that sports fans are “fed up” with “being told where they can go” and “what they can do” in the context of lockdowns ostensibly issued as public health measures.
White also addressed the growing politicization of sports.
“One of the things that I’ve really tried to do through this whole thing is stay out of politics,” White said of the UFC’s events in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. “When people tune in to watch sports, they don’t want to hear that crap. They don’t want to hear what your opinions are or who you’re voting for or what you’re doing. They want to get away from everything in their life.”
Partial transcript below:
HANNITY: I want to talk about the growth of UFC over the years, and you’re a big part of its success from the get-go, but I want to talk about it through this idea — so you watched LeBron James, what he had said last week, then you look at the ratings of the finals in the NBA, 5.6 million viewers is a disaster.
Just a few years ago, they had 50 million people watching the Oscars every year. Now we’re down below ten million.
If you look around an athletic stadium. I don’t care what the sport is. I see people of all backgrounds, all races, all coming together because they love and have the shared passion for that sport, right?
WHITE: Right. Well, one of the things that I’ve really tried to do through this whole thing is stay out of politics. When people tune in to watch sports, they don’t want to hear that crap. They don’t want to hear what your opinions are or who you’re voting for or what you’re doing. They want to get away from everything in their life, and they want to focus on the two, three, four hours, however long the sport is.
Throughout this pandemic, when you turned on the UFC, we never talked about COVID, we never talked about politics.
Obviously there are certain fighters — male and female — who have their own religious beliefs, their own political beliefs, or whatever. We don’t muscle anybody, either.
So if somebody comes out at the press conference and they want to talk about this or that or whatever it might be, it’s their God-given right to do it. We don’t muzzle anybody, but we keep politics out of the sport.
You want to listen to that stuff? Turn on any other station, you got it. You’ll hear all the COVID and political stuff you want to hear. When you turn into the UFC, you’re there to see fights.
HANNITY: Do you see the growth of the UFC — and then you look at the precipitous decline in a lot of other sports because of woke politics [and] cancel culture — do you see a direct correlation?
WHITE: I mean, it’d be hard to say no that they don’t go hand-in-hand. I truly do believe that people are fed up. I just put on an event. We’re the first major sport to have an indoor live event at full capacity during this pandemic.
[On] Saturday night we had 15,259 fans there. You wanted to wear a mask? Wear a mask. You didn’t want wear a mask? You didn’t have to.
Everybody was there. The crowd was explosive all night. It was a great show. We broke the arena record, and what that tells me — I sold out Jacksonville, going to Houston next, then Vegas, 50,000 seats sold out in under five minutes total for all three — people are done.
People are done being told where they can go, what they can do. They’re ready to get back out there and start enjoying their lives again.
Hannity concluded, “Americans now are informed, and they are voting by buying out 50,000 seats in five minutes.”