You heard it all throughout the 2020 election campaign from conservative voices in the MMA space: Socialism is bad. The government is a nanny state. Real men are self-made. They pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get to work and would never think of taking a handout.
The UFC, and by extension the sport of MMA, became deeply tied to this message and perhaps the most active proponents of President Donald Trump’s failed reelection campaign in the American sporting landscape.
UFC president Dana White, whose relationship with Trump goes back well before the latter’s political career, spoke at the Republican National Convention, much as he did in 2016. White also led a UFC contingent to appear at Trump campaign rallies in the swing state of Nevada, and several UFC fighters also appeared with Trump at rallies in Florida.
MMA’s MAGA brigade were undefeated champions in the fight against the gluttonous pig that is the evil government.
Until it was their turn to feed from the federal trough, that is.
In response to the terrible economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the government created two avenues to help small business owners through the CARES act, which was signed into law March 27.
One, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, is a low-interest loan program for which the lender has 30 years to repay. The second, the Paycheck Protection Program, helps employers meet payroll during the pandemic. If certain benchmarks are met, these loans don’t have to be paid back.
As it turns out, several prominent names in the MMA MAGA sphere had already taken their government handouts while they spoke out against the evils of socialism. In a report released Friday, Bloody Elbow took a deep dive into public records and found the following:
Tito Ortiz, current Huntington Beach mayor pro tem, longtime Trump supporter, and staunch anti-mask crusader, took out a $32,292 PPP loan June 8. The loan is in the names of both Ortiz and ‘Triple JJJ LLC.” (Does this mean the company is called JJJJJJJJJ?)
Miletich Fighting Systems, founded by MMA legend and outspoken libertarian Pat Miletich, took out an $8,700 PPP loan on May 1.
Brendan Schaub, granted, was not a part of the crew that went out campaigning for Trump. He did, however, use his platform to push the notion COVID was overblown early on during the pandemic, right up until he caught the virus after doing a standup comedy gig. Turns out that during the period Schaub was telling his podcast listeners COVID was no big deal, Brendan Schaub MMA found it real enough to take out a $22,427 PPP loan April 29.
Then there’s First Round Management, one of the sport’s largest agencies. Among its client base is Jorge Masvidal, who actively campaigned for Trump. To this day, he’s tweeting nonsense about a stolen election, to which we won’t link. FRM went to the federal till more often than anyone else on the list. It received a $4,620 PPP loan April 8, a $10,000 EIDL April 18, and a $140,000 EIDL June 30. FRM president Malki Kawa took out a $39,300 EIDL loan Aug. 4.
There were a few other big names on the list, as well, but we’re not going to name them, because, you know what? They didn’t spend most of the past year telling us how they did everything all by themselves and how government money is for weak-minded snowflakes. That also goes for the lesser-known names, by and large gym owners and smaller-scale fight promoters who were hit hard by state and local shutdowns to combat the virus.
Americans faced unprecedented hardships in 2020 during the worst public health crisis of the past century. The federal government’s role is to help people get through such situations, a belief system underscored by President-elect Joe Biden trouncing Trump by more than 7 million ballots in the popular vote. Even those who fancy themselves as the biggest and strongest need a hand sometimes. Hopefully those who preached one thing but practiced another in 2020 will show a little more humility in the future.