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Morning Report: Dana White speaks about the recent uptick in fight week COVID-19-related bout cancellations

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Dana White
Dana White
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began spreading, most sports leagues in the world shut down to weather the storm. The UFC was the most notable exception to this standard though, only taking a brief hiatus before returning to action and throughout the year they have continued to put on events, while other sports leagues have only recently been returning to business. But though at this point, the UFC has plenty of experience with how to put on a safe event, over the past few weeks, more and more fights have been falling through due to COVID-19, and it’s starting to really affect events.

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 16, two fights were removed from the card last minute due to positive COVID-19 tests. Montana De La Rosa vs. Talia Santos and Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr all were cancelled on fight day due to positive tests leading to an eight-fight event. This also doesn’t include the intended main event that was supposed to be Jack Hermansson vs. Kevin Holland until Holland was forced off because of a failed test as well. So as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc with the UFC’s fight schedule, at the post-fight press conference UFC President Dana White was asked about the apparent increase in failed fight-week tests, which he blames on the overall increase of COVID-19 in the United States.

“Who knows?” White said. “I have no idea; the COVID thing is more rampant now. Another friend that I talked to today, who lives on an island in Alaska, somewhere where they have a population of 4,000 people, over 40 people have COVID there now, and it’s like a big, huge deal.

“This stuff is definitely spreading. When we were first going through this stuff, I didn’t know anybody that had it, and then, you know, one employee came up with it and got through it quick. But personally, somebody that I was friends with hadn’t had it yet, and now everyone’s got it, you know what I mean?”

The United States has struggled with containing the coronavirus now having had a reported 14.46 million cases in the country with over 100,000 new cases occurring daily. But though cases are on the rise in the United States, that may not fully explain recent spat of day-of cancellations. In their effort to work around the coronavirus, the UFC implemented a series of COVID-19 protocols to ensure safety, including having fighters tested upon arrival at the fighter hotel, isolation, and another round of testing before the actual fights, and it was the second round of testing that led to the cancellations this past weekend. So since fighters are tested initially upon arrival, which would seem to imply that the fighters or their corners contracted COVID-19 during fight week, to which White did not have a definitive answer.

“People show up with it, or I think what happened this time, somebody had had contact with somebody else and was training their fighter and then gave it to them,” White said. “I don’t know exactly what the deal was, but – yeah, I don’t know.”

Given the rise of cases in the United States, it may be time for the UFC to reevaluate its protocols, however, the UFC has, in general, had a great deal of success in handling the COVID-19 crisis while continuing to do business. Though scheduled bouts are more fragile than ever, since their initial hiatus the UFC has yet to cancel an event due to the coronavirus and is looking to end the year strong with two more events this month. And so, reflecting on how 2020 has been, Dana White said that if he had to go back and do it all again, he wouldn’t change how they’ve handled things.

“I don’t know if there’s anything that I would do differently at the beginning of 2020, knowing what I know now,” White said. “We got through it pretty well. We did a good job. I would have reinforced myself, don’t be afraid to fight through this thing and go and do not listen to the media, whatever you do. Do not listen to the media.”


Results. Check out all the outcomes from Saturday’s UFC Vegas 16 event.

Rematch. Marvin Vettori: ‘F**k’ Paulo Costa, ‘I want that fight’ against UFC champ Israel Adesanya right now.

Terrible. Dana White explains why UFC released Yoel Romero, promises ‘serious cuts’ are coming to entire roster.

Horrifying. Jiu-jitsu coach, TUF 18 contestant Rafael de Freitas jailed on charge of criminal sexual penetration.

Exhibition. Floyd Mayweather, Logan Paul announce exhibition boxing match on Feb. 20.

USADA. Chi Lewis-Parry suspended 4 years by USADA for multiple banned substances, falsifying evidence.


UFC Vegas 16 Post-Fight Show.

UFC Vegas 16 Post Fight Press Conference.

Countdown for UFC 256.

LFA 96 highlights.

Khabib’s comeback.


On to the Next One. Matchmaking for the UFC following UFC Vegas 16.

6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC Vegas 16.


Good sport.

Feeling good.

We’re gonna get a lot of these for the rest of the year.

Derek running out of options.


Jon Jones giving Claressa Shields the seal of approval.

Cejudo retired in name only.

Heavyweight is not like the other divisions.

Aljo going back to his roots.


Bella Mir (1-0) vs. Alma Cespedes (0-2); iKON Federation 4, Dec. 11.

Taila Santos (16-1) vs. Gillian Robertson (19-4); UFC Fight Night, Dec. 19.

Jimmy Flick (15-5) vs. Cody Durden (11-2-1); UFC Fight Night, Dec. 19.

Julian Marquez (7-2) vs. Maki Pitolo (13-7); UFC 258, Feb. 13.

Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1) vs. Adriano Moraes (18-3); ONE Championship, Feb. 24.

Dominick Cruz (22-3) vs. Casey Kenney (16-2); UFC 259, March 6.


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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