The UFC faced an unprecedented set of challenges in the past week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a string of events which ended with the UFC pulling the plug on the schedule through April 11.
But UFC president Dana White has never been known to back away from a challenge, and while he knows he can’t make any promises, he vows he will do everything in his power to make the show go on come April 18, when Khabib Nurmagomedov is scheduled to defend his lightweight title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
In his first interview since announcing the cancellation of the upcoming slate, White touched on a variety of topics related to how events played out, and reminded detractors he’s often found a way to get things done when told he can’t.
“If you’re a fan, if you’re a media member, you’d stop doubting, I would imagine,” White told TSN. “But, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Despite widespread criticism. the UFC went on with last Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 28 in Brasilia, Brazil, putting the event behind closed doors, and was attempting to find a new location to continue with UFC on ESPN+ 29, which was originally scheduled for London on March 21, when they finally pulled the plug on Monday.
White noted that at each step along the way, the UFC complied with standards set by governments in each location, removing fans from the equation in Brazil when the government mandated no major events, pulled the show from the U.K. when that was no longer feasible, and halting attempts to continue with this weekend’s planned event the federal government recommended no more than 10 people gather in public.
Had the “10 person” guideline not been put in place, White said the company would have gone ahead with the card.
“We followed and complied with all the rules,” White said. “Every time they came out and said, I don’t remember what the first number was, then the second number was 50 and we figured that one out, and then when the number got to 10? We’re good, but we can’t pull that one off.”
White bristled at the idea fighters at the Brazil show were in danger, but he did not say yes or no when asked directly if they were specifically given COVID-19 tests.
“There was the same stuff that’s going on that they tell you to do,” You look for the symptoms in people, and obviously these fighters go through a ton of physicals and medicals before they compete.”
Medical consensus at this time is that COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who carry the virus but do not exhibit symptoms.
As for UFC 249, the company formally pulled the plug Wednesday on New York’s Barclays Center as a venue on April 25, and made no promised the show would happen, but reiterated he’s going to do everything in his power to give the fans the fight they’ve anticipated for years.
“If you asked me questions 10 days ago I could answer any question you threw at me. I don’t know a lot things right now. Think about this. Las Vegas shut down the casinos I never thought I’d ever see that in my lifetime. Khabib and Tony is going to happen. We’re going to make it happen. It’s just going to be a matter of how quickly it would go back to being normal.”
Whether that venue could potentially be the UFC’s APEX in Las Vegas is on hold at least until the March 25 Nevada Athletic Commission meeting, which could provide clarity.
“I have my own arena,” White said. “I have my own production, I have everything. I have everything you need to put on events. So, there isn’t much that I can’t pull off.”
Here is the interview in part (via Twitter):
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/03/dana-white-making-ufc-249-happen-there-isnt-much-i-cant-pull-off/