‘Headlock him up!’ Protesters gather outside Madison Square Garden as US president Donald Trump watches UFC 244 (VIDEO)
It was reported earlier in the week that Trump would be attending the event, and his arrival at the famous New York venue mid-way through the preliminary card caused havoc backstage for the journalists, coaches and fighters working the event.
Media members were subjected to more stringent searches as they entered the arena for the fights.
This is new: As part of added security, we’ve been asked to open our gear and walk away from it. Lots of nervous journalists right now considering the collective value of that equipment!!!!! #UFC244pic.twitter.com/F56OpJxNfd— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) November 2, 2019
And after Trump arrived at the arena. ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto tweeted that the backstage area had been temporarily put on lockdown.
“Random UFC 244 note, nearly the entire backstage tunnel area is shut down, apparently due to President Trump’s presence back there. I’m stuck outside the interview area. More importantly Firas Zahabi is stuck out here and can’t get to Kevin Lee, who is two fights away.”
Random UFC 244 note, nearly the entire backstage tunnel area is shut down, apparently due to President Trump’s presence back there. I’m stuck outside the interview area. More importantly Firas Zahabi is stuck out here and can’t get to Kevin Lee, who is two fights away.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 3, 2019
Trump’s attendance at the event wasn’t just noted by the MMA fanbase and media, as the scenes outside Madison Square Garden showed crowds of placard-holding protesters had gathered to show their displeasure at their commander-in-chief’s presence in The Big Apple.
“HEADLOCK HIM UP!” said one placard, while the crowd chanted for the removal of Trump and vice president Mike Pence.
A day after President Trump announces his permanent residency move from New York to Florida, these protestors say they are here to welcome the President during his visit to watch UFC fight at Madison Square Garden. @PIX11News#UFC@realDonaldTrumppic.twitter.com/fasBt9dH1y— Cristian Benavides (@cbenavidesTV) November 3, 2019
But when Trump arrived on the arena floor, he appeared to receive a much warmer reception inside the arena than outside, as his appearance was greeted by applause and a mixture of cheers and boos.
And while the reception he received from the New York fans was certainly mixed, the president clearly enjoyed meeting Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, who was also in attendance to watch main event star Jorge Masvidal in action against Nate Diaz.