Trump touts return of UFC: 'We want our sports back'

Trump touts return of UFC: 'We want our sports back'
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE celebrated the return of UFC matches Saturday night, saying it was "important" as parts of the nation reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC. They’re going to have a big match. We love it. We think it’s important," he said in a message recorded outside the White House that was shown during ESPN's broadcast, referring to UFC President Dana White.

"Get the sports leagues back. Let’s play. You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do," he added. "But we need sports. We want our sports back."

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Justin Gaethje beat Tony Ferguson in the feature match in Jacksonville, Fla., CNN reported, adding that the event was closed to the public. Two other events later this month will only be open to essential personnel, the network noted.

The Associated Press also reported that the floor of the cage was disinfected between each match, and padded parts of the octagon were wiped down in between rounds.

The news service noted that Florida officials had exempted professional sports with a national audience from a state stay-at-home order as long as the site was closed to the public.

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White has previously said he would "never say anything negative" about Trump, who as a businessman helped reestablish the mixed martial arts promotion company in the early 2000s

“I would never say anything negative about Donald Trump because he was there when other people weren’t,” White told Hill.TV in 2018.

"Any good thing that happened to me in my career, Donald Trump was the first to pick up the phone and call and say ‘congratulations,’" he continued.

Professional and collegiate sports ground to a halt in March due to the pandemic.

Some non-contact sports will be returning in the next few weeks, including NASCAR on May 17 and the PGA Tour in mid-June.

Several plans are being discussed to resume Major League Baseball games.