Backpacks full of money, stadiums full of gawkers, attacks on TV executives, brutal mockery, pro-wrestling melodrama, violence against microphones, racially tinged taunts, custom-made scatological suits, flag theft, character assassination, hip-hop performances, rabble, rabble-rousing, accusations of illiteracy, accusations of cowardice, endless bragging, hyperventilating promoters, Drake, and the con to end all cons. The only way the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight could be any more of a circus is if Donald Trump somehow got involved.
Cue the inevitable.
On Tuesday, following the first of four press conferences promoting the upcoming match between the greatest boxer of his generation and the most famous mixed martial artist of all time, UFC President Dana White was asked if President Trump had contacted him about getting tickets to the Aug. 26 event. The question may seem like an odd one, considering everything Trump has on his plate these days, but the relationship between the two presidents goes back nearly 20 years, to 2001, when Trump's Taj Mahal put on two UFC events and helped legitimize the dying company and its sport. The two men remained friends, and White returned the favor last year when he spoke glowingly about then-candidate Trump at the Republican National Convention. Apparently they even talk on the phone once or twice a month, and despite everything that's going on in the White House—all the accusations of collusion and cover-ups and conspiracy and the rest of that inconvenient Russia business—White remains convinced of Trump's integrity, saying he's been "as stand-up and stand-up can be." Add to that relationship the fact that Trump has a long history of hosting boxing matches (and a very short history of promoting MMA fights), the fact that the president never met a spectacle he didn't want to be a part of, and the fact that it's 2017 and the world is what the world has become, and it makes perfect sense that Trump would want to be attend the most-hyped sporting event of the decade. Unfortunately, White told the assembled press, Trump probably won't be able to make it.
"They called me yesterday and I don't think they'll come, but they'll be watching," White said. He went on to say that Trump "100 percent" would like to attend the fight but "he feels like he'll ruin the event if he shows up. Secret Service is gonna have to go through the place, they'll have to shut down streets and create crazy traffic."
Of course he's right. There's a reason why U.S. presidents rarely attend sporting events outside Olympic opening ceremonies. But I'd be shocked if causing an inconvenience would stop a president like Donald Trump from attending what promises to be the spectacle of the season. After all, this is a man who agreed to fly to France this week for the country's Bastille Day celebrations only after learning from newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron that the ceremony would include fighters jets in the sky and tanks on the ground and horses, all of which Trump was apparently hoping for at his own inauguration back in January. The Secret Service may demur and complain but I have a hard time believing that Trump won't be in Las Vegas on August 26, even if (especially if?) his presence distracts from the goings-on inside the ring and out. What man of Trump's leanings wouldn't relish the opportunity to confirm his status as the biggest of all celebrities in a room that promises to be filled with his competition, including Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor?
No, the Mayweather/McGregor fight is like something out of Donald Trump's most cherished fever dreams: Two "winners" and self-promotional wizards, in love with themselves and the money they've made, surrounded by adoring fans and entourages, trumpeting their achievements and lashing out at each other in front of an enormous baying crowd for garish amounts of money, commanding the attention of the entire world, from the common man to the cultural elites, sucking all the air out of the room and crushing the rest of the entertainment world under the weight and gravity of its spectacle and self-regard, brought to the world by a man who has built a bloodsport into a multi-billion-dollar venture by stealing happily from the Trump playbook: courting controversy, keeping himself in the center of the picture, promoting his business as a manifestation of his own personality, soaking in adoration and deflecting blame and throwing subordinates under the bus whenever anything goes off the rails. How could Donald Trump possibly miss something so … Trump-ian? And how could he pass on the opportunity to hijack such an event for himself, to confirm his place at the center of the universe, to show the pretenders what fame is really all about, to prove once again that he is the spectacle to end all spectacles, the winner of all winners, the center of attention, the man Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, and Dana White can only ever dream of being?