President-elect Donald J. Trump has a long-lasting relationship with UFC President Dana White and the sport of mixed martial arts, but did you know that Trump once attempted to run his own MMA promotion back in 2008?
Well, heavyweight mixed martial artist Josh Barnett killed that business venture nearly eight years ago and Trump’s career as a fight promoter ended before it ever truly took off to begin with.
Everyone was trying to put him out of business that year, even Dana White — the man who spoke in support of Trump last year at the 2016 Republication National Convention.
In 2008 Donald Trump and Affliction Clothing became business partners in an effort to take the start-up “Affliction Entertainment” promotion to the top of the MMA world — signing legends such as Pride FC Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, Pride veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, along with former UFC champions such as Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, Vitor Belfort and Tim Sylvia. If the future president wanted to be competitive with the world’s best fight promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, then needed to have elite (and expensive) talent.
Affliction sponsored both the Ultimate Fighting Championship and many of its fighters from 2005 until the clothing brand announced their intention to enter the fight promotion business in 2008 — at which point the UFC banned fighters from wearing Affliction apparel inside the Octagon.
Trump reportedly owned a significant portion of Affliction Entertainment.
Affliction’s first two PPV events, Affliction: Banned and Affliction: Day of Reckoning, were both headlined by Fedor Emelianenko and the legendary Russian Heavyweight managed to defeat Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski respectively. Barnett also fought on the first two Affliction cards,defeating Pedro Rizzo by knockout and then Gilbert Yvel via submission due to strikes at the second event.
Fedor was supposed to be next for Barnett and after the moderate success of the first two events, the heavyweight winners were booked for a fight in the third PPV event in company history — Affliction: Trilogy.
FanHouse’s Ariel Helwani got the chance to speak with Donald Trump in 2009 before the third PPV and he asked the future President if mixed martial arts had surpassed boxing as the new combat sport of the century.
“Well, I really do,” said Trump, “I think it’s pretty obvious. You look at boxing matches and there’s still some great ones, but overall — MMA is the place to be.”
Affliction: Trilogy: Emelianenko vs Barnett never took place as scheduled on Aug 1. 2009, as just ten days prior to the bout Josh Barnett tested positive for anabolic steroids (third violation). The California State Athletic Commission declined to grant him a fight license,and without a PPV headliner — the event was cancelled. Affliction Entertainment wouldn’t survive financial blow as too much money had been lost.
California State Athletic Commission employee Dave Thornton commented on Barnett’s failure in July 2009, stating: “Our primary concern is for the health and safety of fighters. Anabolic agents and other banned substances put the users of those agents at risk, as well as their opponents. The commission simply will not tolerate their use.”
The UFC and Affliction reunited by the end of July and fighters once again began wearing the Affliction apparel inside the octagon.
Affliction Entertainment ceased operations on July 24 2009, just 414 days after Donald Trump publicly announced his partnership with the company.
Trump’s relationship with Fedor Emelianenko, the personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, raised many questions during the 2016 U.S. presidential election — even though Trump has previously denied ever personally meeting the Russian President.
Josh Barnett’s third career PED violation for anabolic steroids back in 2009 killed Donald Trump’s career as a fight promoter., The career-long PED user again made headlines as the UFC announced he had failed his fourth drug test as a professional mixed martial artist after bombing and out-of-competition test that was collected by USADA on December 9. 2016.
Donald Trump’s inauguration is scheduled for Friday January 20 2017.