After weeks of speculation, UFC president Dana White has finally had to call off UFC 249 due to the coronavirus. In an interview with ESPN released late this evening, White said that he had calls “from the highest level” at both Disney and ESPN, who had asked him to stand down.
The event, scheduled for April 18, has now been postponed.
In the video interview that you can see below, White said that he and the UFC were ready to go but that he had been asked to “stand down’.
Two days previously, White had said that the event was going to happen.
Over the past month, Dana White and the UFC have resisted the trend of mass cancellations caused by the spread of the virus, pushing forward to try and make their fight night happen.
But White and the UFC were deadest on bringing a stacked fight card, headlined by the lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to the fans.
First they lost their venue: New York’s Barclay Centre. Then they lost their star fighter after Nurmagomedov got stuck in Russia due to restricted flights.
But the UFC’s strength is its agility. Refusing to play by the rules, White began sourcing a replacement venue. First in America, behind closed doors if he had to, before venues in the Middle East, specifically Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia were considered.
Earlier this week, it was even suggested that White would fly his fighters by jet to a private island and that he was days away from making that happen.
In the meantime, the absent Nurmagomedov was eventually replaced by Justin Gaetje and the fight became an interim title bout. But not before Conor McGregor's name was thrown into the metaphorical ring.
White now says that “Fight Island” will happen within a month.
Watch this space.