Days after the plug was pulled on this weekend’s ill-fated card UFC president Dana White says that future events, such as the one announced for May 9, will proceed as planned despite them being ‘very expensive’ to arrange.
White had remained steadfast in his plan to hold UFC 249 on tribal land in California this weekend before having to ‘stand down’, as he put it, after pressure from ESPN and Disney executives prompted him to cancel the event in light of potential health concerns associated with the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States.
Undeterred, White swiftly announced plans to hold an event next month which will be topped by three title fights – including the Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje fight originally planned to take place this weekend – and says that every element has been considered to ensure that the event takes place as planned.
“I was supposed to go this Saturday at Tachi Palace in northern California. I got it done. We could go,” White explained to Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“I was asked to not do the event from my partners [at ESPN], who I respect, so I did it. I gave them the weekend off and I’m actually at the office right now. We’re back in here. We’re working. I have a date now for May 9.”
A location for the new card hasn’t yet been revealed but speculation suggests that it may take place in California, Texas or Florida – the state which this week deemed WWE as an ‘essential business’ to ensure that it could operate in empty arenas in spite of social distancing guidelines.
White’s event will also take place in an empty house and while he remains aware of the potential loss of earnings that comes with hosting fight cards with no live gate takings, he says that the juice is worth the squeeze.
“I don’t sit around and wait for somebody to tell me it’s time to do this, it’s time to do that,” White said.
“You’ve got to look ahead at what’s happening out there. My commitment is to my employees and to my fighters. I don’t want to lay anybody off and I don’t want fighters sitting around for a year not being able to make money, but I want everybody to be safe.
“Instead of hiding from this thing, how do you get out there and figure out how to function yet be safe about it. My biggest problem with this whole thing is misinformation. You read one thing here, you read something different over here. Nobody really knows what’s going on. It’s been a very strange thing to deal with.”
White, meanwhile, was part of a recent telephone summit with President Donald Trump along with other figures in the US sports world such as Roger Goodell of the NFL and Vince McMahon of WWE, in which they discussed the viability of once again opening up the country’s sporting infrastructure.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci iterated this week that he sees a potential avenue for sports to resume en masse this summer so long as certain safety measures are adhered to, such as not allowing fans to attend and ensuring that athletes remain as socially isolated as possible and only travel to and from hotels in the area that they are competing.