Ron DeSantis Gets the Rock Star Treatment at UFC 273, Foreshadowing Something Bigger

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

On Saturday night, UFC 273 took place in Jacksonville, FL, and while those who are fans of the sport were likely focused on the fights, the political world turned its eye elsewhere.

Ron DeSantis made news, appearing at the event and being given the rock star treatment as he arrived. A long entourage followed the Florida governor, including numerous members of the media. Smiling and laughing, he gave high-fives and interacted with the cheering crowd. DeSantis eventually took his place by Dana White, who is the president of the UFC.

I’ll just say what I think a lot of people are after watching that video: This dude is running in 2024.

I’ve heard all the arguments against it, and I just don’t buy them. Yes, Donald Trump is going to be the frontrunner if he ever officially announces (he’s essentially said he is running multiple times, so it’s a safe bet). But I don’t think that matters — and here’s why.

I’ve been open about my preference for DeSantis, as I believe he is by far the best governor in the country and has shown himself to be uniquely equipped to thoroughly embarrass the left. For all of Donald Trump’s positives, I’m also not a fan of running a 78-year-old man for president. Decline comes for all, and it often comes quickly. Joe Biden was sentient until he wasn’t.

Still, put aside for a second whether you’d prefer Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump as the 2024 nominee because it’s not actually relevant in this discussion. The reason I think DeSantis is going to go ahead and run is simple; he has nothing to lose by doing so and everything to lose by not doing so.

Florida has a two-term limit for governor. That means that DeSantis is out of office, no matter what, come 2026. If he doesn’t run in 2024, he risks becoming old news and missing his moment by the time 2028 rolls around, which is exactly what happened to Chris Christie when he chose not to run in 2012. Being out of office for two years without already establishing one’s self as a national figure is a recipe for disaster for a politician with higher aspirations.

Losing a presidential primary is not a political death sentence. On the contrary, many presidential nominees lost their first time around. Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and several others come to mind in modern history, and that’s just on the Republican side. DeSantis can run in 2024, establishing his national profile (more so than it already is), and even if Trump defeats him, he’ll be set up as the top dog come 2028. That’s the path. To not run is to concede the future completely. Let history be your guide.

So again, this isn’t an argument on who you should vote for when things get real. But it is an argument for the idea that DeSantis is going to challenge Trump and that there’s nothing wrong with that. The chips will fall where they may, and the Florida governor is smart enough to know the opportunity he has, not just regarding 2024, but also in setting up a possible 2028 run. To not run in two years would be political suicide. Yes, he’s going to deny any interest until the time comes, but mark my words: He’s running.