Epidemic be damned, Dana White is insisting all of the UFC’s major events over the next few months will go on as planned.
The UFC’s President spoke to ESPN after UFC Brasilia this past weekend to discuss what the company will be doing to work around the coronavirus. White stated that next week’s UFC London card, set to feature Tyron Woodley and Leon Edwards, will go on as planned. As far as where the fight will be, due to the fact that President Trump extended the United States’ travel ban to the United Kingdom and Ireland, it is unsure at this time.
“Obviously, things are changing by the hour,” White stated. “This morning, they announced new travel restrictions for the U.K., so [the March 21 event] can’t continue in London. But the fight will go on. We’re working on finding a new venue, likely in the United States, and I have my matchmakers literally working right now to put together the undercard.”
Several fights on the card have already been scrapped due to travel restrictions. Ariel Helwani shared an email that the UFC sent out to managers, requesting assistance to anyone that can fight on short notice.
This is an email they are sending out to managers and reps about this new card next week. As you can see, they are even open to signing fighters who currently aren’t on the roster to fill it up, as well. pic.twitter.com/qYcYCDvdyo
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 15, 2020
Dana and his crew have literally been contacting anyone who will listen to put on their fights, due to the APEX Center in Las Vegas being unavailable. This comes after the Nevada Athletic Commission shut down combat sports until March 25. The commission could expand it after that date, which could result in major changes for the UFC’s card that was meant to take place in Columbus and Portland.
As far as the UFC’s return to Brooklyn for UFC 249 in April, that seems to be a fantasy now. The card, which is supposed to feature Khabib Nurmagomedov v. Tony Ferguson, will happen according to Dana, just not in Brooklyn. The Governor of New York is making sure to postpone events in New York with more than 100+ people.
The UFC were the only major organization to hold an event this weekend. All major entities (MLB, NHL, boxing, NCAA, Golf) have postponed events due to the coronavirus. Bellator and Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship dropped their events right before they started. The Brazil Athletic Commission did not test any of the UFC’s athletes prior to the event.
As far as how determined Dana is to have these events, he is willing to risk everything. He made a bold claim, one that can actually happen within the next few days.
“Unless there’s a total shutdown of the country, where people can’t leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen,” White said. “We’re gonna move on. These fights will happen. These guys will compete. We will find venues, and we will figure this thing out. I mean, the only thing that’s gonna stop us is a complete government shutdown, where everybody is confined to their homes.”
According to the latest from CNN, there have been over 152,428 cases of the coronavirus, with over 5,720 deaths confirmed.