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It was an emotionally trying week leading up to UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee. The entire city of Las Vegas, which hosted the event, was reeling from the aftereffects of the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival.
UFC president Dana White, however, was steadfast that the event would move forward in an attempt to contribute to the healing of the promotion’s home city.
In an effort to honor the victims and first responders in Las Vegas, and to unite the community, the UFC planned to do something it doesn’t ordinarily do, and that was to have someone perform the U.S. national anthem at the start of the pay-per-view portion of the fight card.
White called on close friend Whitey Ford (also known as Everlast) to perform. Ford immediately said yes, but found himself struggling. He just couldn’t do it. So he shifted gears.
Ford explains how he went from being unable to perform the national anthem to the idea of performing his rendition of “America the Beautiful.”