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Morning Report: Joe Rogan comments on Dana White’s plan to move forward with UFC 249

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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, UFC President Dana White has insisted that the lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 will still take place on April 18th as planned. Ever after the UFC was forced to postpone three other events and the New York Commission declared that they would no longer host the event, White has remained adamant that the fight will still take place. And UFC commentator Joe Rogan believes him, even if, Rogan says, he won’t be part of it.

Speaking on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan said that he doesn’t know much about the particulars of White’s plan for UFC 249, but he does know that he won’t be working that evening.

“The UFC is talking about putting on a fight on April 18th,” Rogan said. “I don’t know how they’re gonna do that. I don’t know if they’re gonna be able to do that in the United States. They’re talking about doing it in a place with less than 10 people, just an open arena - I guess someone’s gonna commentate it [but] it’s not gonna be me - and they’re gonna be duking it out in an empty place. And they’re gonna try to do that on the 18th.”

Given the world-wide reaction to the global pandemic, it’s clear that even if UFC 249 takes place as scheduled, the event will be different from normal and will likely be held without being open to the public. It’s the same set up the UFC was forced to use for UFC Brasilia two weeks ago, but as Rogan points out, UFC 249 does have the advantage of being a known quantity going into it. Because the UFC knows about the various restrictions the coronavirus response will put on hosting an event, they can better plan for it and perhaps, hold UFC 249 in a more basic location rather than an arena.

“They did it for the last card in Brazil because it was ordered by the government,” Rogan said about holding a locked down event. “The government ordered all large gatherings to break up when they started seeing the corona rising in Brazil so they had to do the Brazil card indoors, no people, weird. But they’re gonna plan Khabib and Tony this way. They’re gonna plan it, so it doesn’t even have to be a big place. They could do it in, like, a film studio. Legitimately, they could set this up in a film studio somewhere.

“We did it when we did Fight for the Troops. Whenever we did it, they just would use an airplane hangar. The troops would be there. The whole audience would be the troops and their uniforms and they would set up this octagon in an airplane hangar. It was pretty powerful. Different. Real different. Different kind of show. But they could do that. They could do that in a studio or just a large warehouse. The UFC could do it. Set up some lights, have some crazy high-speed hookup to the internet, let’s party. Next thing you know, it’s getting uploaded and we’re watching it from here.”

But the question of whether they can move forward with the event and whether they should are entirely different. The widespread procedures and restrictions put in place by local governments is all in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus and Dana White and the UFC have already faced criticism for their determination to continue holding events despite every other major sport postponing their seasons indefinitely. Flying fighters from around the world into a central location and then flying them back risks exacerbating the problem globally. And, as Rogan points out, if the UFC does test everyone as a prerequisite to holding the event, then what if one of them tests positive?

“They could definitely [hold the event]. The UFC has the capability of doing that. The thing is, how are they going to make sure nobody has it?” Rogan asked. “You’re going to have to test everybody. And if someone has it, do you let them fight? What if they have it and they’re like Idris Elba and they have no symptoms but they’ve got the corona? What if Khabib has the corona? Or what if Tony has the corona, does Khabib even fight him?”

In the end, the simplest resolution here would be to postpone UFC 249 in the same way the UFC postponed UFC London, UFC Columbus, and UFC Portland. The issue with that being that a fight between Khabib and Ferguson has already been cancelled on four other occasions and at this point may actually be cursed to never happen. That’s why, Rogan says, Dana White is so adamant about making it happen this time.

“This fight is so cursed!” Rogan concluded. “This is how Dana feels. This is why Dana’s trying so hard to make it happen even if there’s only 10 people in the room.”


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