NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump sent a pre-fight tweet wishing luck to UFC fighter and presidential loyalist Colby Covington.
“Fight hard tonight Colby. You are a real Champ! #MAGA,” Trump wrote.
Covington wagged his tongue, landed his strikes, and coasted to a unanimous decision victory over Robbie Lawler in the 170-pound main event fight of a rare Saturday afternoon card at the Prudential Center.
President Donald Trump’s two adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric, rooted on Covington (15-1) from cageside seats and snaped pics throughout the day with several well-wishers. Covington scaled the cage and pointed toward the cheering brothers after securing a 50-44 50-45, 50-45 victory.
Covington wraped himself in an American flag and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA!” blared from the speakers.
“I was truly inspired when the first family came backstage to see me before the fight,” Covington said inside the cage. “Let’s give it up for the Trumps! They’re keeping America great.”
The fight mixed politics and the fight game like few others in UFC history.
“You know you got a big fight when the President of the United States is tweeting about it,” UFC President Dana White tweeted.
Eric stood and clapped when Covington’s arrival to the Prudential Center in a red Make America Great Again was shown on the big screen. UFC legend Georges St-Pierre was in Nasrat Haqparast corner for a second-round KO win before the retired fighter made his way over to pose for pictures with the Trump brothers.
The brothers flashed thumbs ups for the ESPN camera before the main event. The used their phones to shoot video of Covington’s entrance as he walked to the ring draped in an American flag and to the tune of Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle’s WWE theme song.
The brothers cheered as Covington encouraged the boos during his fight introduction and exhorted him to rally against Lawler in a furious first round. The fighters came out swinging and woke up a crowd that had a card heavy on submissions.
Covington smiled and pointed toward the brothers as he went back to his corner.
Lawler — for professional, and yes, political reasons — was the clear fan favorite and heard chants of “Robbie! Robbie!” throughout the five rounds.
New Jersey was one of the first states that embraced UFC, and White credits cards at the Trump Taj Mahal for helping the company grow into a heavyweight in the sports world. The organization moved up from casinos to holding UFC 32 in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. and has held pay-per-views and other televised cards at the Prudential Center.
White has remained fiercely loyal to Trump through the years, and said he would never badmouth the president, “Ever, ever, ever.” White even stumped for Trump in a 2016 speech at the Republican national convention.
Covington is a fan of the Trump family and was invited to meet the president last August at the White House. Covington tweeted a photo of the meeting with the caption, “Pleasure to finally meet you Mr. President. Thank you for always putting America first!