Though UFC President Dana White has been leading the charge to get his company up-and-running as quickly as possible, the promotion has had to relent to coronavirus restrictions and officially cancel several events.
The list now stands at eight UFC events that have been canceled or postponed.
UFC on ESPN+ 29 in London, UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus, and UFC on ESPN+ 30 in Washington, DC, were all declared as postponed early on when the world started to go into a global lockdown because of the coronavirus and COVID-19.
White moved heaven and earth to try and keep UFC 249 on the docket for April 18, but at the end of the day, the higher ups at his broadcast partner ESPN and its parent company Disney called on him to stand down and he did. White still intends to move forward with a revamped UFC 249 fight card.
There are now four more dates that have been added to the list of events that will not take place as planned.
UFC on ESPN+ 31: Anthony Smith vs. Glover Texeira
Originally slated for April 25 in Lincoln, Neb., UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Texeira has been canceled, according to UFC officials. Fans who purchased tickets for the event will receive a full refund at original point of purchase. Purchases made via online or phone will be automatically refunded.
UFC on ESPN+ 32: Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Weidman
UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Weidman was set for May 2 in Oklahoma City. Like the Lincoln fight card, it has been canceled because of restrictions on public gatherings. Again, fans who purchased tickets for the event will receive a full refund at original point of purchase. Purchases made via online or phone will be automatically refunded.
UFC 250: Henry Cejudo vs. Jose Aldo
UFC 250 was originally slated to feature bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defending against Jose Aldo, as well as dual-division champion Amanda Nunes putting her featherweight belt on the line against Felicia Spencer on May 9 in Ginásio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil. While not canceled, UFC 250 will not take place on May 9 nor will it be at Ginásio do Ibirapuera, which has been turned into a field hospital through September in response to COVID-19. The promotion will surely try to make up all of its pay-per-view events as possible, but Sao Paulo looks to be off the list of locations for quite some time.
UFC on ESPN+ 33: Poirier vs. Hooker
UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker was slated for May 16 in San Diego, Calif., but was another casualty of the restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus outbreak. There still may be an event on May 16, but it will not be in San Diego, and it is unclear what the fight card might look like, as just getting the UFC back on track currently remains in a state of flux.
UFC 249 moved to May 9, but fight card changes almost daily
When White had to postpone UFC 249 from its original date of April 18, he vowed to get his promotion back in business as quickly as possible. A few days after bagging that date, White announced that he was again moving forward, this time with a targeted date of May 9 and a fight card to rival any the promotion had ever scheduled.
Finding a location to safely host an event has proved to be a moving target, but so has putting together a fight card.
In announcing his revised plans for UFC 249 on May 9, White also revealed a stacked fight card, though he admitted that it was a work in progress and the bouts had not been signed. He intended to have three championship fights on May 9.
The retooled UFC 249 fight card was set to feature Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje for the interim UFC lightweight title, Henry Cejudo putting his bantamweight belt on the line opposite Dominick Cruz, and dual-division champ Amanda Nunes defending her featherweight strap against Felicia Spencer.
While it is believed that Ferguson vs. Gaethje and Cejudo vs. Cruz have been agreed to, Nunes on Monday revealed that she was not willing to fight on May 9.
In a recent conference call with UFC fighters, White laid out his plans for the UFC moving forward, which included the May 9 date as the kick off for his goal of beginning to host weekly events. He also told the fighters that if any of them didn’t feel comfortable fighting yet, for whatever reason, that it would not be held against them and their management should inform the UFC that they don’t want to be considered for the first round of fight cards coming up.
Nunes appears to be taking him up on that statement.
“Actually, I’m not fighting May 9,” Nunes told CBS Sports on Monday. “I’m going to fight, [but] I don’t know yet. I don’t think this is the right time for me right now to fight. Let this coronavirus pass a little bit so I can at least have a full camp. We can maybe see around June, [but] let’s see what is going to happen. But I’m not fighting [May 9].”
Many fighters, like much of the rest of the population, is itching for some sort of normalcy in life, and many are feeling the need to earn a paycheck. But Nunes isn’t likely to be the only fighter that opts out as the world continues heavy restrictions to try and impede the progress of the coronavirus pandemic.
White, however, intends to move forward with events, hoping to hold most of his U.S. based events at the UFC’s Apex, a state-of-the-art production facility in Las Vegas, and international events on “Fight Island,” which is currently being finalized, though a location has not been revealed.
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