The main card of UFC 216 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas opened with a heartfelt tribute to the victims, survivors and first responders of the tragic mass shooting that claimed 58 lives and injured nearly 500 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
UFC president Dana White, who is from Las Vegas, opened the pay-per-view with a powerful message on a video shown on the big screens throughout the arena.
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t let fear stop you. Continue to live life to the fullest and experience everything that life has to offer.” White said. “Together we will heal, together we will help the victims and their families. Together, we will be stronger than ever.”
Earlier in the week, the UFC donated $1 million to the families of victims while White said more than 1,500 free tickets will be given to first responders from around the valley. And those individuals were recognized and serenaded with standing ovations from the fans inside of the arena.
Vocalist Everlast sung a stirring rendition of “America The Beautiful” as a “U.S.A.” chant erupted from those in attendance. During the preliminary fights, a moment of silence was taken for the victims of the shooting. The UFC’s Octagon girls and all the UFC staff wore #VegasStrong T-shirts to pay tribute on Saturday as well.
It was only right that the first big event to take place in Las Vegas after Sunday’s tragedy would be from the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion, which calls Southern Nevada its home. Although the streets of Las Vegas have been relatively quiet in the aftermath, those who were in attendance at UFC 216 were a loud and proud bunch who refused to live in fear.