These days, most professional athletes are forced to kowtow to “woke” culture. Any positions that run counter to such Leftist tropes — no matter how nuanced or insightful — are immediately devoured by cancel culture mobs. Just ask Drew Brees or Marcellus Wiley. Some combination of peer pressure and genuine fears of reprisal now inform most athletes’ public statements on sociopolitical happenings.
MMA and — in particular — the UFC are decidedly different. Athletes in the UFC hail from all over the world and it remains MMA’s top promotion. More importantly, fighters can still hold political views that go against the tidal progressive norms. Here are five outspoken conservative figures in the world of UFC.
One of the UFC’s most gifted Welterweight strikers, Jorge Masvidal was raised in the rough and tumble streets of Miami, as ESPN recounts:
“When Masvidal was 14, he suffered one of the worst beatings of his life. He’s been in so many altercations, he says it’s impossible to recall every one. But what he does remember is that in this specific encounter he was outnumbered, and it landed him in the hospital.”
Masvidal began his fighting career in the backyard brawls famously put together by underground fight legend, Kimbo Slice. He currently holds the UFC’s BMF title after a lopsided TKO victory over Nate Diaz due to a somewhat controversial stoppage. He also holds the record for fasted KO in UFC history with his epic flying knee against Ben Askren in UFC 239.
During the 2020 presidential election, Masvidal came out in full support of Donald Trump. His father is a Cuban immigrant who witnessed firsthand the horrors and atrocities of Communism under the Castro regime, according to Sport Bible.
“It’s understood Masvidal’s father arrived in Miami after fleeing communist-led Cuba as a teenager – and it was his own experiences which ultimately played a big role in shaping Masvidal’s political beliefs in the United States.”
Certainly, Masvidal’s apprehensions were not unwarranted when he expressed concern over Joe Biden, stating, “We either re-elect President Trump and keep American great again, or we let Joe Biden and the radical left take us down the slippery slopes of socialism and misery.”
Masvidal shared his most insightful reasons for supporting Trump on Dan Le Batard’s podcast, South Beach Sessions, according to MMA Mania. The UFC fighter discussed how he’s had to fend off spurious accusations of racism and how the former president contributed to minority communities all across our nation in meaningful ways:
“When people would say I’m racist because I would pick a certain person, that lets you know where this is going as a society. They’re using now that to wipe away all the good (Trump) has actually done for my community. The lowest unemployment for Latin and Black people, that gives us dignity. That gives my community dignity. People are working and making more money. The pay gaps that have happened in the middle class are nice, are good. It’s numbers, it’s facts. He’s actually helping out my people. And I’m supposed to not give credit for that?”
Colby Covington, the former welterweight champion of the world, first gained widespread notoriety in 2018 after posing with President Trump in the oval office, proudly displaying his new belt. Since then, Covington has remained a vocal supporter and friend of the Trump family, even answering a call from President Trump in the middle of a press conference after his 2020 victory over Tyron Woodley.
Echoing the antics of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (who himself called Trump a “phenomenal President”) and — to a lesser degree — Chael Sonnen, Colby Covington has relished his role as a top heel in the UFC. According to Beyond The Game TV, his more outlandish antics were for the sake of survival and relevancy as a fighter on the verge of being cut from the promotion.
In 2019, Covington explained to Candace Owens the compelling reasons that lead to his rise as one of the UFC’s main “villains” in the game, as reported by MMA Fighting:
“I’ve never told this story before but three fights ago, before I fought the No. 2 guy in the world, this guy named Demian Maia, in Brazil, they had told my manager Dan Lambert that they weren’t going to re-sign me. They didn’t like my style, they didn’t like that I wasn’t entertaining, and this is before I really started to become an entertainer and really understand the entertainment aspect of this business. So before this fight they told me no matter what happens, I was ranked No. 6 in the world, ‘We’re not re-signing you. We don’t like your character. We don’t like your fighting style.’ And I’m getting paid $30,000 to go fight the No. 2 guy in the world. After you pay taxes and pay your coaches, you’re really going to get like, $5,000 or $10,000.”
That’s not to say that him parading about in MAGA attire and openly supporting former president Donald Trump is just for show alone. His conservative convictions seem genuine outside of all the pomp and pageantry.
Of course, his support of Trump and conservatism alone has sent MMA journalists and “woke” mobs on MMA forums into furious fits about what a supposed monster Covington must be for such views.
In 2018, The Insider declared Covington to be “the most controversial fighter in the UFC” who was similar to “Donald Trump in the worst ways possible” because he “likened his underdog status to Trump’s rise from unfancied Republican candidate to US President.”
Politics aside, Covington saves his best, most hilarious comments for his fellow fighters. According to Fightful, he once referred to Conor McGregor as a “little leprechaun” after the Irishman launched a dolly at a bus full of fighters in an apparent fit of inebriated rage:
“He’s a coked up little leprechaun. It’s funny how I put a tweet that King Colby the bounty hunter was coming after him, he turned himself in. He knows what would happen. I would dunk that nerd underwater and make him quit.”
Does Covington ever cross the line? Perhaps. Some of his animus seems rooted in frustration and fatigue rather than self-promotion. He was kicked out of American Top Team after referring to fellow training partner and former UFC champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, as “ugly” and “washed up,” according to Sports Keeda.
Regardless, what most don’t realize or, frankly, refuse to acknowledge is that Covington is a genuinely good man with an unparalleled work ethic, as routinely evidenced by his unmatched conditioning in The Octagon.
This recent clip of Covington breaking character to give MMA advice to a young Latino fan demonstrates who the conservative fighter really is behind the scenes. Covington tells the young man to avoid partying and drinking, to fortify his mind, to “find a way,” and “never stop believing” regardless of the odds to achieve success.
Sportscasting explains the distinction between Covington as a man and as a UFC fighter the best:
“While it may seem confusing, Covington, as a person, is very different than ‘Colby Covington,’ the UFC fighter. That’s because ‘Colby Covington’ is actually an act that the real Covington’s put on whenever the cameras are around him. This is the same thing as what WWE wrestlers do, as wrestlers, more often than not, have to put on a fake persona whenever they’re working.”
While not quite a household name, Henry Cejudo remains one of the UFC’s most decorated athletes even in quasi-retirement. He’s a 2008 Olympic Gold medal wrestler who held both the Bantamweight and Flyweight belts in the UFC.
According to The Gazette, Cejudo considers himself “a very prideful American” who rose up from the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles against all odds to become one of the top wrestlers and fighters in the entire world:
“The son of undocumented Mexican immigrants who was born into a two-bedroom apartment about 10 miles from the Staples Center…Cejudo made sure his story was known in a time when tensions over immigration on the southern border are particularly charged.”
A 2015 piece in Rolling Stone detailed how Cejudo gives back to his community and continues to be a role model and inspiration to others:
“Cejudo works with various charities, outreach programs and non-profit organizations, including the Special Olympics and Beat the Streets Wrestling. In 2011 Cejudo published a book, American Victory, that detailed his treacherous journey to Olympic glory. He says the response was more meaningful than any trophy or medal.”
In 2020, Cejudo gave his full support to the reelection of Donald Trump. At a Latinos for Trump rally in Phoenix, Cejudo explained why, including mentioning his own undocumented father who “was deported when Henry was six years old.” The fighter certainly didn’t mince his words either, according to 12 News:
“My dad wasn’t the best human. He came to this country as a foreigner, broke the law, and was deported…I’m going to tell you as an immigrant’s son, that you come to this country, and you break the law, and, rightfully so, you should pay the consequences.”
Cejudo will likely return to the UFC in 2021. ESPN reports that he will “unretire…for the right price.”
Gina Carano is not just a famous actress the Left is desperately trying to cancel, she was also truly a pioneer in MMA. Well before the likes of Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, Carano was “the face of women’s MMA” and “was responsible for helping female fighters gain mainstream credibility,” according to Sportscasting. Her only MMA loss came at the hands of Cris Cyborg.
Now, of course, Carano is facing down Leftist mobs for daring to voice conservative views. Her character, Cara Dune, from the popular show, “The Mandalorian,” has been canceled.
As Madeleine Kearns of the National Review reported, Disney fired Carano for “anti-Semitism” surrounding a clumsy social media post comparing “cancel culture” and Leftist witch hunts to Nazism and the Holocaust.
Kearns argues that “it would be more accurate to say that Carano was fired for tweets and comments she made that had identified her as a conservative.”
“The specific offense (and pretext for her firing),” Kearns continues, “was a rather underwhelming instance of Godwin’s law (the rule that all Internet debates sooner or later lead to trite comparisons being made with Nazi Germany). Speaking of cancel culture, Carano asked, ‘How is [Nazi hatred of the Jews] any different from hating someone for their political views?’ Previous examples of her supposed moral unfitness included her use of ‘boop/bop/beep’ in her Twitter profile (mocking the transgender-pronouns trend), her stated belief that Epstein did not kill himself, and suggesting that ‘expecting everyone you encounter to agree with every belief or view you hold is f***ing wild.’”
Though not an MMA athlete, UFC president Dana White deserves mention given that he wears his conservatism on his sleeve. It’s also mainly because of White that so many UFC fighters can voice such seemingly “controversial” opinions without any fear of reprisal from the organization, unlike almost all other professional sports organizations at the moment.
MMA journalist, Karim Zidan, inadvertently demonstrates White’s willingness to adhere to the tenets of free speech in a piece for Bloody Elbow meant to deride the UFC president. Zidan writes, “White’s laissez-faire approach to regulating speech emphasizes the promotion’s position on the political spectrum.” That “laissez-faire approach” is one of the very principles our nation was founded upon.
Zidan even quotes White in full to — albeit, accidentally — drive home the point:
“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind.”
White also campaigned for Donald Trump in 2020, as did many UFC fighters. The UFC president even spoke at the Republican National Convention where he focused on the success of the “pre-pandemic economy and unemployment numbers,” according to MMA Junkie.
White also pointedly called out the failed leadership on the Left that demanded defunding the police in the wake of the riots and protests that raged all across our nation for months:
“Before the pandemic … we weren’t facing the lawless destruction that now is occurring in a few of our great cities. It blows my mind how quickly some of the leadership in this country has forgotten the critical role first responders play in our society. Police departments, and other law enforcement, and even some fire departments, have faced opposition from many in this country. But they are always the people who are asked to step up when things are at their worst and put themselves at risk. That has certainly been the case during this ongoing pandemic.”
The UFC remains the last bastion in American sports where athletes can freely speak their minds without risk of being canceled or forced to publicly apologize. How long this will last remains to be seen, especially with sponsors like ESPN and its parent company, Disney, to consider. Hopefully, Dana White — alongside various MMA athletes — will keep fighting the good fight inside and outside The Octagon.