The coronavirus pandemic has shut down almost every major sport on Earth, but the UFC president has been adamant about bringing mixed martial arts back sooner rather than later. He had a location and venue secured for UFC 249 but the plug was pulled at the last minute after the promotion’s broadcast partner at ESPN asked them to “stand down.”
Apparently, White and the UFC won’t stay seated for long, however, as a new card is already in the works for May 9 with three title bouts and a huge number of top-ranked fighters expected to compete.
“I was supposed to go this Saturday at Tachi Palace in northern California. I got it done. We could go,” White said when appearing on Kevin Harvick’s show on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. “I was asked to not do the event from my partners [at ESPN], who I respect, so I did it. I gave them the weekend off and I’m actually at the office right now. We’re back in here. We’re working. I have a date now for May 9.”
Considering ESPN shut down the last show, White seems to have everything figured out with his broadcast partners to move ahead with the card in May.
White also said that he’s planning on producing shows through the UFC’s APEX center in Las Vegas once the Nevada State Athletic Commission lifts the current ban for combat sports events in the state.
“Listen I’m not stopping,” White said. “I have this thing figured out. The reality is can it be done? Yes, it can be done. It’s just very expensive. It’s very expensive and I’m willing to spend the money to do it.”
White was also recently named to a task force being cobbled together by President Donald Trump to help put the United States back on a path towards reopening many businesses that have been shut down in the wake of the pandemic.
Sports in particular have been an interest to Trump, who previously held a call with White and numerous other league heads including Roger Goodell from the NFL and Adam Silver from the NBA to discuss when games could be played again.
It’s impossible to know for now when sports like baseball or basketball may resume a full schedule but White says he’s not going to wait forever when it comes to promoting UFC events again.
“I don’t sit around and wait for somebody to tell me it’s time to do this, it’s time to do that,” White said. “You’ve got to look ahead at what’s happening out there. My commitment is to my employees and to my fighters. I don’t want lay anybody off and I don’t want fighters sitting around for a year not being able to make money but I want everybody to be safe.
“Instead of hiding from this thing, how do you get out there and figure out how to function yet be safe about it. My biggest problem with this whole thing is misinformation. You read one thing here, you read something different over here. Nobody really knows what’s going on. It’s been a very strange thing to deal with.”