Dana White found a kindred spirit in WWE CEO Vince McMahon during the coronavirus pandemic.
While every other major sport is shut down in the United States from the NBA to the NHL and Major League Soccer, the UFC is plotting a return to action on April 18 with an interim title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. That date will mark the start of several consecutive shows in a row after the UFC president revealed plans to hold numerous cards at an undisclosed location in the U.S. as well as plans to hold international events on a private island.
Meanwhile, the WWE just wrapped up a two-night WrestleMania event that was filmed in advance and held behind closed doors without an audience in attendance. McMahon has kept the WWE churning out programming at the company’s Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., regardless of the ongoing global pandemic with experts advising isolation, social distancing and paying meticulous attention to health and safety right now.
Now White will join him as the only other major promoter willing to put on shows with none of the other major sports ready to make that move just yet.
“I’m ready to get back,” White told ESPN late Monday night after confirming UFC 249 would move ahead as scheduled. “I think a lot of other people are ready to get back. First of all, everybody’s afraid to be first. Realistically the only guy right now who isn’t afraid is me and Vince McMahon.
“Vince McMahon hasn’t skipped a beat. What he did was he found solutions. He found ways, get rid of the crowd, and I’m sure he’s doing everything in his power, too, to make sure his guys are safe. Everybody else is afraid to be first.”
White says he’s followed all the guidelines regarding the stay-at-home order that’s been issued across numerous states including Nevada where he and his family reside.
He believes that people can’t keep hiding in their houses living in abject terror about going outside again while simultaneously going stir crazy. That’s why White feels at some point the world just needs to return to some sense of normalcy.
“Right now, we need leadership,” White said. “We need people that are going to go out and find solutions. Hiding in your house is not an answer. I get we have to do it. We followed everything that the CDC has said, but at what point do you start to get back to normal?
“You keep people in their houses for too long with no entertainment, people are going to start losing their minds. We need to start figuring out solutions. That’s what we’re doing. We’re going to do this and keep everybody safe and we’re going to pull this thing off. We’re going to make it happen.”
With plans to promote a string of events in consecutive weeks, White promises that once the ball starts rolling the UFC won’t be slowing down any time soon.
He plans on taking all the necessary precautions when it comes to the health of the athletes and everybody else attending the events from his staff to media members in attendance.
Back in late March, President Donald Trump said that “we can’t have the cure be worse than the problem” when addressing the need to get people back to work and rescue a struggling economy.
White seems to agree with him when it comes to his plan to promote UFC cards rather than sitting back and waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
“Sports need to happen. It needs to happen,” White said. “We need to figure out solutions. How do you make this safe and let it go on. That’s what the whole world needs to do. What are kids never going to go back to school? The Governor of California came out yesterday and said the NFL will not start in September in California. What does that mean for school? There’s just so many different things that trickle down.
“This is sad and we’re going way off base here, but there’s a lot of kids in cities who only eat when they go to school. What’s happening to those people? What’s happening to all the people that have lost their jobs? What are the answers? How do we fix this and how do we get back to normal. In my own little world, I’m just trying to figure that out for me.”