Dana White forced to cancel UFC 249 after ESPN/Disney intervention
DANA WHITE WENT above and beyond the conventional means to make sure the UFC 249 event takes place as scheduled on April 18th, but in the end had to change his mind.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship President lost the long awaited Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson bout that was supposed to headline the pay-per-view, lost the original venue in Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but refused to give up on the event. He roped in Tachi Palace - a casino on Native American lan in California that has hosted several high profile MMA events of World Extreme Cagefighting in the past - as the new venue for the event. Earlier this week, UFC even announced a full card, with Justin Gaethje replacing Khabib to take on Tony for the Interim Lightweight Championship in the main event.
But with increasing scrutiny and criticism from various parts of the larger media that questioned whether holding a sporting event during the pandemic was the right thing to do led to a call from a high-up executive of ESPN/Disney, the UFC's broadcasting partner, and Dana decided to stand down.
According to White, the UFC had arranged for adequate safety measures to ensure that the fighters, their cornermen, UFC staff and venue/broadcast crew did not contract the coronavirus during the event. But ultimately, he agreed to err on the side of caution and postpone the event.
He also clarified on the private island UFC has secured for future international fights, saying the island would indeed be ready within a month to host events.
White still insists that the UFC will be the first major sporting organization to return to a regular schedule. His stance has been seen by many as reckless at a time sports around the world have come to a halt as the world continues to grapple with the unfolding crisis. The UFC President, however, disagrees, saying the fighters would be much safer and have access to better medical care at the events than they would be at home.