It was perhaps not a surprise that Meryl Streep took aim at the president elect, Donald Trump, during her speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night. Her attack on sports was a little more unexpected though.
Streep raised the subject while talking about the rewards diversity has brought to Hollywood. “If we kick [foreigners] out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts – which are not the arts,” said Streep, who was honored at the ceremony for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”.
On Monday, Dana White, the UFC president hit back at Streep. “It’s not going to be everybody’s thing, and the last thing I expect is for an uppity 80-year-old lady to be in our demographic and love mixed martial arts,” White said of the 67 year-old.
“Of course [MMA] is an art,” White added. “These fighters, these men and women, are so talented. They train their whole lives to be the best in the world. To say something stupid like that is like saying, ‘She’s not a talented actress,’ which she is. She’s a very talented actress.”
White gave a speech in support of Trump at last year’s Republican convention.
While Streep may have been alluding to the jock culture and physical brutality that surrounds football and MMA, the latter in particular is a diverse environment. UFC’s biggest star is Conor McGregor, an Irishman, and it is one of the few sports in which women often top the bill ahead of men. Its most famous reigning female champion, the Brazilian Amanda Nunes, is an out gay woman.
While Trump responded to Streep’s speech by calling the 19-time Oscar nominee an “over-rated” actress, Scott Coker, the head of Bellator MMA, expressed his admiration for Streep and invited her to an event.
“I’m a lifelong fan of your work but also a lifelong martial artist who happens to promote mixed martial arts around the world,” Coker wrote in a post on Twitter.
“The global sport of mixed martial arts celebrates male and female athletes from all around the world who work years tirelessly honing their craft and– yes – art. They come from every country and every walk of life. We at Bellator support them and honor their skill.
“Please be my guest at the LA Forum on January 21st and you will see that mixed martial arts is truly artistic – which will feature fighters from all over the world competing at a world class level.”
It was unclear at time of publication whether Streep believes Holly Holm can nullify Germaine de Randamie’s kickboxing skills at UFC 208 next month.