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Dana White reassures fighters, talks up ‘Fight Island’ during coronavirus meeting

Dana White
Dana White
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

According to UFC President Dana White, the promotion is getting back to business soon, there will be plenty of work to go around, and yes, “Fight Island” is a real thing.

During an invite-only teleconference convened to address the promotion’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, White tried to reassure contractees that the UFC is coming back in a big way.

White said the promotion will reboot live events starting on May 9 and hold weekly events in the U.S. He added the company is working with state officials to have them at the promotion’s APEX facility, but official locations for the May 9 pay-per-view card and subsequent cards remain TBA.

Additionally, White promised that every UFC fighter who wants to, will be able to fight three times this year, and he said “Fight Island” will be up and running by late May or early June. The promotion was forced to postpone four events, including the banner UFC 249 card, amid shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

Apart from a timeline for the tropical combat itinerary, White’s comments were characterized as a rehash of previous interviews he’s given about the promotion’s plans, according to several fighters who attended the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from the promotion. Managers and other “third parties” were not allowed to attend the meeting, per an invite obtained by MMA Fighting.

One fighter called the meeting “kinda pointless” and took White to task for not disclosing the event’s locations. The teleconference was set up so that fighters could not see who else was attending the call or who was asking questions during a Q&A portion of the call.

At one point, White attacked the media for what he saw as inaccurate reporting about plans for the ill-fated UFC 249 and scoffed, “The media are not your friends.” Several times, he asked for serious questions from the fighters and reassured them that if they felt uncomfortable about the coronavirus, they don’t have to compete.

Several fighters said they hadn’t checked their emails and didn’t know about the meeting until contacted by MMA Fighting. They said they would attend the next session, scheduled for Monday, April 20.

Here are a few points relayed by attendees, several of which were first reported by MMA Junkie:

  • Fighters who had fights postponed are prioritized for rebooking.
  • White expressed a dislike for catchweight bouts and said fighters should probably wait until they can make weight before they compete again.
  • Matchmakers will contact fighters to re-book fights and will help as much as they can with medical exams, and the promotion will purchase flight tickets for as many corners as possible for “Fight Island.”
  • The location of “Fight Island” on international waters means people will be able to fight without visas.
  • The UFC is currently negotiating to open the APEX and the UFC Performance Institute
  • The UFC is working with the Nevada government to promote in Vegas starting in May, but they haven’t finalized anything yet. The upcoming fight cards will likely be in the U.S.
  • International Fight Week is unlikely to happen.
  • The Trifecta meal service for fighters will be back soon.

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