Country singer Jason Aldean has been slammed by UFC president Dana White for allegedly turning down the chance to sing the national anthem at a fight.
The singer/songwriter was onstage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival last weekend (01Oct17) when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Las Vegas audience, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 others.
Aldean scrapped a string of tour dates following the massacre, but performed a touching tribute to the victims on Saturday Night Live (SNL) on Saturday (07Oct17) instead, singing I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty, who died on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
However, White told TMZ Sports he was furious that Aldean had agreed to the SNL gig despite turning down the chance to perform the national anthem at UFC 216 in Las Vegas on Saturday (07Oct17).
The 48-year-old said 15 survivors of the shooting were in the audience to watch the fight between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee at the T-Mobile Arena, along with hundreds of emergency services first responders.
White told TMZ that Aldean's reps allegedly turned down the offer, and said he was too shaken up from the shooting and "might never perform live again".
Despite that remark, Aldean instead performed on SNL - a move which has infuriated White. "His image was more important than coming back to Vegas and playing for the people who are his fans and who got shot watching him play," he told TMZ Sports. "F**k you Jason Aldean. Stay out of Vegas. Country music was attacked. Those were country music fans."
"Those are people who buy your albums and none of you country music people could sing the anthem in front of survivors and 1st responders?" he fumed. "This isn't about money. This is about the bad a*s people who fought through this s**t that this coward (gunman Stephen Paddock) did."
Singer and former House of Pain frontman Everlast sang the national anthem at the fight, which was won by Ferguson.