U.S. President Donald Trump held a conference call with the heads of all the major sports leagues across the country on Saturday, including UFC president Dana White.
“We have to open our country again.”
– President Trump
Though everyone in the mixed martial arts world was wondering if the call would mean the final nail in the coffin for UFC 249, as of late Saturday afternoon, there was no clear answer.
“The President recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the Nation,” read a White House statement after the call. “The commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry. President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time.”
President Trump spoke with league heads which reportedly included White as well as Adam Silver of the NBA, Cathy Engelbert of the WNBA, Rob Manfred of MLB, Roger Goodell of the NFL, Gary Bettman of the NHL, Jay Monahan of the PGA, Vince McMahon of WWE, John Middlebrook or Jim France of NASCAR, and Don Graber of MLS.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, President Trump told the league representatives that he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September. “They want to get back. They’ve got to get back…. We want to get back soon, very soon.”
White has been working feverishly to keep UFC 249 intact in some form or fashion for April 18, although main eventer Khabib Nurmagomedov is all but ruled out because of being on lockdown in Russia. There has been talk of Nurmagomedov’s opponent, Tony Ferguson, instead squaring off against the likes of Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier, plus other bouts being shifted to the UFC 249 fight card, but White has admitted to numerous new hurdles every day.
President Trump saying that he hoped to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September might be an indicator that UFC 249 will not take place, but not necessarily, as White has already conceded that if it were to happen on April 18, UFC 249 would take place without an audience.
What might be a more cryptic indicator of whether or not UFC 249 will happen would be a promotional video that White released on Saturday, asking for fans to try and win an opportunity to be his guest at a future pay-per-view.
During the video, White said, “Hey guys, this is your last chance to enter to win two VIP tickets to any pay-per-view event of your choosing this year. And you know once everything gets back to normal, we’re going to start cranking out some killer fights. And you must be so sick of sitting at home right now. You know you wanna come on this trip.”
That, of course, isn’t clear cut either, and there has been no statement from UFC officials saying whether or not White is still working on making UFC 249 happen on April 18. The mixed martial arts world, like so many other sports, remains in a holding pattern.
What does Dana White’s video tweet mean for UFC 249?
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