UFC president Dana White is adamant that the show must go on.
In the wake of government lockdowns on large gatherings around the world, the UFC has had to scramble to try and keep its events intact, but there is no doubt about it, that is exactly what White intends to do.
UFC on ESPN+ 28 took place in Brazil on Saturday in a 16,000-seat arena with no audience. It was a bit of an awkward broadcast as sound echoed throughout the arena, but the fights were broadcast via the ESPN+ streaming app.
Several upcoming Fight Night events were going to be moved to the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, but the Nevada Athletic Commission has put a complete ban on any combat sports events until at least March 25. While the commission determines how to handle coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, White isn’t willing to sit idly by and see if things fall to their favor.
“As of now, the (March 28 and April 11) fights can’t happen at the APEX here in Las Vegas. We’re working to find new locations, but the fights will go on. They will continue. We’re not stopping,” White told ESPN.
White is defiant, insisting that not only will next week’s UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Edwards take place somewhere, if not London, he is also not willing to let the highly anticipated UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson slip away. The fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has been scrapped on four separate occasions, so fans are now calling it cursed, but White believes he can still make it happen.
“So we had possibly a couple of different venues for (UFC 249), including Nevada. So now the whole Nevada thing went down. We’re looking for another venue. I hope by 10 o’clock (Sunday) morning, I should have two venue options for that fight. That fight will happen. It will go on. The fans are all freaking out, but don’t worry. Khabib vs. Tony will happen,” White proclaimed.
The only way White will not move forward with planned UFC events is a total government lockdown.
“Unless there is a total shutdown of the country where people can’t leave their houses and things like that. Theses fights will happen. We’re going to move on and these guys are going to compete. We will find venues and we will figure this thing out. The only thing that is going to stop us is a complete government shutdown where people are confined to their homes.”