Daniel Cormier defends Dana White pressing for UFC 249: ‘I honestly think that it would’ve worked’

It’s a tough time to pick sides. After all, during the current global pandemic, we are talking about people’s lives at stake in many cases.

But when it comes to UFC President Dana White trying so hard to move forward with UFC 249 on April 18, former dual-division champion Daniel Cormier believes it could have happened in a safe manner.

“If the fight went on, it would’ve worked.”
– Daniel Cormier

Cormier wasn’t slated to fight at UFC 249, but he was asked to work the event as a commentator. It was a role that he gladly, and after discussing it with UFC officials, confidently accepted.

How could UFC 249 happen in a safe manner?

“They called me. Told me the procedures, in terms of what was going to happen,” Cormier told ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani on Monday.

“They said, DC, you gotta come alone. You’re gonna check into the hotel; they’re gonna screen you, make sure you’re okay; and then you’re gonna go into the arena and call the fights; and then you’re gonna leave.”

Unlike most fight weeks, Cormier would have driven two and a half hours north from his home to call the fights at Tachi Palace Casino Resort near Lemoore, Calif., and then drove back home. No overnight stay required.

“In terms of what they were going to do to try and protect us, it was crazy. Rogan, myself, and Anik – the Octagon has eight sides – we would each be on a different side of the Octagon just to make sure we were social distancing away from each other,” he continued.

“By the time I was done with this conversation, I felt like I was almost safer at the event than I am anywhere else. Because it’s only people that are okay. We’re all away from each other. And then you go and get paid and you’re only there for a day.”

Cormier was all in. Though the event was eventually canceled when White stood down at the request of the highest of the higher ups at broadcast partner ESPN and its parent company Disney, Cormier had already done his pre-fight preparation. 

He met with a lone camera man – no make-up artists or producers – just a camera man wearing a mask at a distance recording Cormier’s pre-fight breakdowns for the broadcast.

All he had left to do was to show up at Tachi Palace, call the fights, and then go back home.

It didn’t happen, as speculation was that California Gov. Gavin Newsom reached out to put pressure on Disney to force White’s hand. Though there was a lot of other outside pressure to force White to forego his plans, Cormier wasn’t one of the naysayers. He believes that if UFC 249 were allowed to move ahead as planned, it would have worked.

“I like Dana White a lot, so I don’t disagree with what he’s doing. I want fights. I really do. So to watch him put all this effort into trying to make it happen, it’s a little crazy, but it’s what needs to happen. We’re all just kind of like waiting, nobody really knows what to do, somebody has to show that there is a way to get going again,” said Cormier.

“Somebody has to do something. The NBA wants to get going. Baseball wants to get going. Everybody wants to get going. Everybody is kind of waiting and is so afraid to jump that we’re all just standing still. And I think the UFC tried. I honestly think that it would’ve worked.”

(Video courtesy of ESPN MMA)

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