The UFC gives a whole lot more than money to its favorite charitable endeavors, and soldiers are Dana White's favorite cause.
The mixed martial arts league will play host to its third fight card on a military base Saturday when the UFC visits Fort Hood in Texas. Every seat at Fight for the Troops 2 was given away to base personnel, and fans watching on television will be encouraged to donate to charities benefiting wounded veterans.
White, the UFC president, has been aware of a profound bond between MMA fighters and soldiers ever since he purchased the company with his partners 10 years ago. Many soldiers love studying martial arts, and the UFC has several fighters with military experience.
"The troops are very into the fights, but the UFC is very into the military," White said. "I don't know what it is for me, but I have this thing for the military, too. I think these guys are real heroes. I consider myself a pretty tough guy, but I don't want to crawl into the jungle with a gun, or go into some desert. Some of the stuff they have to do is messed up. They respect and look up to the fighters, and you know our fighters look up to them."
Rising lightweight star Evan Dunham will fight Melvin Guillard in the main event at Fort Hood, and Canadian Mark Hominick can earn a featherweight title shot with a victory over George Roop. Matt Mitrione also appears on the card.
The UFC first held a show at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in southern California in 2006, setting up an octagon in an aircraft hangar.
During its first official Fight for the Troops at North Carolina's Fort Bragg in December 2008, the UFC raised $4 million toward the construction of a research center for traumatic brain injuries.
White makes every event available for free on the American Forces Network. Putting on a show at Fort Hood will cost the UFC nearly $2 million, but White hopes the event raises twice as much money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which funds research on traumatic brain injuries, and the Fisher House Foundation.
"It's just what we feel we have to do for our troops," White said. "I really feel our country has lost its patriotism. These kids sacrifice themselves, and we have to take care of them, but we don't. It's amazing to me."