UFC finally gets with the program
Dana White is tapping, but don't be surprised if, Kevin Lee-style, he attempts to keep fighting.
After holding an event in Brazil over the weekend, the UFC president promised to keep the fights coming despite almost every other sporting body shutting down in the US amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"Unless there's a total shutdown of the country, where people can't leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen," White said on ESPN. "We're gonna move on. These fights will happen. These guys will compete.
"We will find venues, and we will figure this thing out. I mean, the only thing that's gonna stop us is a complete government shutdown, where everybody is confined to their homes."
But on Tuesday he sent an email to staff announcing the company's next three events, scheduled for London, Colombus and Portland, were being postponed.
The jewel in the crown of the UFC's second quarter of 2020 - the highly-anticipated lightweight championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson - is scheduled for April 19.
White remains desperate to find a solution to ensure that match-up, which for varying reasons has been cancelled four times in the past, goes ahead.
DANA WHITE'S EMAIL TO STAFF
This has been a crazy couple of weeks. We've been doing everything possible to stick to our live events schedule because the fighters want to fight, our employees want to work, and the fans want to watch our sport. So many people have reached out over the past few days to say thanks for not canceling our Brasilia event on Saturday.
When weird things happen in the world, or when there's a tragedy, like the October 1 shooting, people want things to get back to normal, and nothing feels more normal than watching sports.
We did everything we could to relocate our next three events- London, Columbus, and Portland. But every day, there are new restrictions put in place on travel and large public gatherings that are making it impossible to stay on schedule. We can't even hold an event in Vegas, our home town, because there's a ban on all combat sports events in Nevada until at least March 25.
As you heard me say, I've been in the fight game for 20 years, and this is what we do-we find a way to keep our events going no matter what. If fighters miss weight, if fighters get hurt, or if states won't regulate us, we figure out a way. But this is different. The whole world is being affected right now, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your families.
That's why we are closing all UFC offices effective immediately, including HQ in Vegas, through at least March 31st, and asking all employees to work from home. The PI will also be closed to all personnel, including athletes, during this time. The next three events- London, Columbus, and Portland-will be postponed. UFC 249 is still scheduled as planned, but the location may change. We'll keep you posted.
I tell you guys all the time, you are the BEST TO EVER DO IT. It feels shitty now, but WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, and we'll be TOUGHER, STRONGER, AND MORE BADASS than before.Right now, the number one priority is to take care of yourselves and your family.
Finally, I want you to know that UFC has your back. If you or any member of your family is showing symptoms of coronavirus and you're having trouble getting to a doctor, please reach out to me, Lawrence, or Hunter.