UFC president Dana White did his best in his attempts to save Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari.
Earlier this month, White posted a video urging the Iranian government to spare Afkari from his planned execution for protesting the regime’s economic policies in 2018. Afkari also admitted to fatally stabbing a security guard during the protest, however, claimed he was tortured into making the confession as per his family and activists.
The 27-year-old’s two brothers were also found guilty but received long-term prison sentences.
White notably revealed he reached out to President Donald Trump as well, who proceeded to tweet about the situation soon after.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
It led to the situation receiving plenty of international attention as there was an outcry of support for Afkari.
In the end, it was to no avail as Afkari was executed this past Saturday in Iran. He was not allowed a final visit from his family either.
White: It’s A ‘Sad Thing’
— UFC (@ufc) September 13, 2020
The UFC posted a tribute to Afkari during UFC Vegas 10 on Saturday night and White later responded to the news during the post-fight press conference.
“Unfortunately, not very,” White said when asked if he was surprised by the execution. “I called the President and I told him about it and the first thing he said to me was, ‘there’s already sanctions against them and there’s just no recourse,’” White said. “He said, ‘let me see what I can do,’ and he started talking to his people.
“Obviously, everybody saw the tweet that he put out and I know he did some stuff behind the scenes to try and help. It’s just… I know there was a lot of publicity. I know the New York Times, FOX, tons of people in the Middle East and throughout Europe wrote stories about it, and I know some other people too, powerful people, that tried to help. At no point during this process did it look good.”
“It’s a sad thing – I tried to help. When you look at something like that, first of all there’s only one way to try and help somebody like that, and that’s the President of the United States or the government, and I tried.”
You can watch White’s response below: