In 2007, McCain said, "They have cleaned up the sport to the point, at least in my view, where it is not human cockfighting any more." The "they" he was talking about was, mostly, Dana White.
Jhabvala: Who do you think is the best presidential candidate for MMA?
White: I'd have to say McCain. I consider John McCain the guy who started the UFC. If it wasn't for McCain I wouldn't be here right now. What people don't understand about mixed martial arts and the UFC is, what [McCain] was saying to the old owners is that you cannot put on fights in states that aren't sanctioned. It's illegal. You can't do it. You have to be sanctioned by an athletic commission, which we agreed with him on 100 percent. John McCain wasn't saying this thing shouldn't happen, or it shouldn't be running. He was saying, if 'You're going to do it, it has to be sanctioned by an athletic commission.' We agree.
That's why, while White's comments might seem surprising at first, they actually make perfect sense: White was able to position himself as the sport's savior exactly because McCain's opposition to MMA put the sport in danger.