Ari Emanuel, the UFC’s new owner, met with Donald Trump on Sunday afternoon.
While it remains unclear why the Hollywood powerbroker and co-CEO of sports entertainment entity WME-IMG met with the president-elect, rumors began to swirl shortly after Emanuel was sighted at the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey on Sunday.
Trump and Emanuel have a working relationship that dates back years. The tycoon’s WME agency once represented Trump when he was a host on The Apprentice. CNN Money later confirmed that Emanuel was no longer Trump’s agent and didn’t appear interested in re-signing him, as he told The Hollywood Reporter that he is “not contemplating any of that.”
WME later acquired the Miss Universe pageant from Trump, where Ari famously said “He wanted to sell it. ‘Great, we want to buy it.'”
Earlier this year Trump even referred to Emanuel as a “close friend” before informing the media that the Hollywood powerbroker was interested in doing a movie about Trump as the GOP candidate for the Republican National Convention.
"He calls me a lot,” Trump told The Hollywood Reporter. “I call him a lot, and we talk. He's very political. Even though he's not political, he's political. He gets it. You're shocked to hear that [about the film], right?" Trump said. "But yeah, I might do something with Ari."
While Emanuel is likely attempting to maintain positive ties to the man soon set to lead the United States, he does not necessarily share his political views. Ari is a longtime contributor to democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 bid. His brother, Rahm, is President Obama’s former Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago, yet that did not stop Trump from contributing to his 2010 mayoral campaign.
"I'm very loyal to people, and that supersedes, frankly, party lines,” Trump told Rush Limbaugh in 2011 But I'm very, very loyal to people, and I'm also very loyal to people that I think are good for the country."
As for the UFC, the promotion is currently in the planning stage for an event in the Russian Federation. Emanuel and White are expected to fly to Russia in the next few weeks to discuss the potential show earmarked for 2017. Support from Trump, a longtime friend of White and advocate for improved US-Russia relations, would undoubtedly be beneficial.