The show may not be on right now, but UFC President Dana White may be “Lookin’ For A Fight” with HBO’s John Oliver.
On this past Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight”, Oliver discussed the surging idea of sports returning during the coronavirus pandemic. Boxing has plans for the sport to return in the summer, but some sports are currently hosting events now. Oliver pointed out that WWE continues to hold events in its Performance Center in Orlando, thanks to it being considered an “essential business” by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Their competition, AEW, have also been holding events in Florida.
That is where the UFC came into the conversation (in the video above, the UFC talk begins at 7:40). The company was able to put on three events this past week: UFC 249, UFC Jacksonville (May 13), and UFC on ESPN 8 (May 16). While the UFC has been performing measures to ensure fighter safety, including separating fighters and their camps, it is what they are doing outside of Florida that caught John Oliver’s eye. “Fight Island” was discussed, which is what White plans on using for fight events for those outside the United States.
“While they couldn’t fly in international fighters for that event, their president Dana White has devised an insane workaround,” Oliver stated. “The UFC is apparently building a facility on a private island that they’re calling ‘Fight Island.’ Now, is that a clever name? No. Is it the perfect name? Yes! Because it’s the first thought an idiot would have if they wanted to name a private island where fights happen.”
The plans for the island include an octagon as well as travel paid for. On an undisclosed location, fighters will be in separate rooms and will go through similar methods of social distancing as they did all of last week. Oliver came up with various names for “Fight Island” before coming up with what he believes was the best one:
“Look at me, Dana, why didn’t you just call it UFC-Sea? It’s perfect!”
The UFC has been both praised and criticized for its methods in handling events. While the fights were able to go on as planned, several of its safety protocols were ignored according to The New York Times. Additionally, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and his corner tested positive for COVID-19 right before fight night. Luckily, no other fighters so far have tested positive. Fighters want to compete in order to get paid. Regarding that, Oliver would go on to say:
“If you want to completely come back without risk, that’s just not possible right now.”
The UFC currently has plans in place for Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje to compete on “Fight Island” to determine the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. Additionally, Conor McGregor has expressed interest in fighting on the island. Potential ring rust and glory are some of the other main factors as to why there are fighters willing to compete on the island. It appears the UFC is going full steam ahead when it comes to the idea.
White has since responded to Oliver and his segment, tweeting:
“I like John Oliver, I think he’s funny. But this is a perfect example of how you can control the narrative by using selective facts. We did approximately 1,100 tests, only 3 were positive, it was a fighter and his 2 trainers and we had 3 events NOT 1.”
I like John Oliver, I think he's funny.
But this is a perfect example of how you can control the narrative by using selective facts. We did approximately 1,100 tests, only 3 were positive, it was a fighter and his 2 trainers and we had 3 events NOT 1 (via @LastWeekTonight) pic.twitter.com/h605hNnLtd
— danawhite (@danawhite) May 18, 2020