Senator John McCain of Arizona, once a major opponent of mixed martial arts, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The diagnosis was made at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, following a craniotomy to remove a blood clot above his left eye, according to Fox News.
The report noted that McCain and his family are reviewing further options with his doctors, which might include a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
“Further consultations with Senator McCain’s Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate,” the 80-year-old senator’s office said in a statement.
In the mixed martial arts world, McCain is famous for trying to ban the sport in the late 1990s, calling it “human cockfighting.” He eventually got 36 states to sign on to his call for a ban, leaving it to survive via the grass roots via local events, UFC availability only on satellite pay-per-view, and the internet. That, however, was 20 years ago, when the sport took on a much different shape than its current iteration.
In the late 1990s, the UFC still operated under just two weight classes, had very few rules, and drug testing was non-existent.
As MMA underwent a transformation – largely because of McCain’s opposition to it – so did McCain’s view of the sport.
While he has never purported to be a fan of MMA, Fox Sports reported in 2014 on McCain’s support for a brain study that included MMA. Also lending his support to the study was then UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who, after noting that McCain had told UFC fighter Jon Jones that he would be purchasing Jones’ upcoming title defense on pay-per-view, admitted that McCain was a necessary driver for the survival of MMA.
“I have to give him credit,” Fertitta said. “Without him doing what he did back in the ’90s to force regulation, this sport would be dead. It wouldn’t exist. Honestly, for all the negatives he caused, he actually allowed the sport to foster and grow.”