The final night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday was as disorienting, frightening, and scream-filled as the nights prior. But this final evening in hell featured a special screamer, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, arguably the only person on that stage to ever successfully convince someone else he was a human and not a droid sent to destroy life on earth. Like most rich owners of a sports league, White is and has always been a die-hard Republican, something that might come as a surprise to UFC fans who prefer to remove politics from sports.
For those who’ve never voluntarily endured listening to Dana White speak—and I cannot recommend enough that you don’t—it was unsettling to hear this pink splotchy bald man yelling into the abyss as if it were four in the morning and he was trying to sell his last Sonja Morgan toaster oven. In reality, that’s exactly what it was.
White is many things but above all, he is a traveling a salesman. He goes from city to city, country to country, selling fighting events and promoting his precious fighters, a job which involves a ton of screaming and gesticulation. The same energy he uses to sell tickets to a blood sport was the exact same energy he brought to the RNC and oddly enough, that’s what the evening required. Don’t get me wrong, White’s speech was in no way good or revelatory but it did convey, in a manner slightly less wild than that of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speech, the sense of urgency going into this election for the very soul of democracy. As President Obama put it in his DNC speech, “This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.”
This November is going to be a bloodbath and White conveys that, with the use of his “I’m selling a fight right now” voice. For Republicans who don’t need to be convinced, White’s yelling was a rallying call to be excited, not just about voting but about fighting for “freedom,” a word that conjures images of Rocky Balboa fighting Drago for the glory of America. It might be exciting if it weren’t so terrifying. But it was also a yell of comfort. White isn’t promoting any old fight, he’s promoting one that he and the RNC believe is winnable. Donald Trump is framed as White’s prized fighter, undefeated and untouchable, and poised to win once more.
When White’s speech wasn’t rooted in fear-mongering, it was rooted in the pompous assumption of an easy victory. After all, the one person who never loses when it comes to UFC is Dana White. It doesn’t matter that neither White nor Trump have a total of two politically functional brain cells between them. What matters is that Trump is a fighter, an entertainer, and that is an easy enough sell if one just knows how to scream.