Dana White is down, but he’s not out.
On Thursday, the UFC president announced that UFC 249 on April 18 and all upcoming events would be postponed indefinitely. The move comes during the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down virtually every major sport across the globe.
Ultimately, White says the decision to postpone all upcoming shows came down to a personal request from the UFC’s broadcast partners at ESPN, who were slated to televise the events.
“I respect ESPN,” White said during an Instagram Live chat. “They’ve been an amazing partner to us since day one. Them asking me to stand down, there’s no way I wouldn’t not do it.”
While the upcoming shows have been postponed, White is still adamant that the UFC will begin promoting events again, ahead of every major sport on Earth.
“We’ll see you soon,” White said. “We will be the first event back. We’ll be the first sport back still.”
If not for the call from ESPN, White says everything was set for next weekend’s pay-per-view card, which was supposed to be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
White added that veteran color commentator Joe Rogan was expected to call the fights with Laura Sanko on board to serve as the backstage reporter. White said the UFC had even secured a ring card girl for the event with Brittney Palmer planning to attend.
Now the event has been scrapped, although White is quick to point out that everything scheduled will still happen — just at a later date.
“All the fights that you guys wanted to see are coming,” White said. “Everybody’s saying the fight’s cancelled. The fight is not cancelled. The fight is postponed and being pushed back.”
When it comes to the many fighters who were expected to compete on upcoming cards, White sent out a message of support to them without getting into too many specifics about potential compensation that may be paid out now that these events have been postponed.
“All my fighters that are nervous and freaking out – don’t be,” White said. “Don’t be worried about the money. It’s coming. We’re going to hold our schedule. All these fights are still going to happen.”
According to White, the plan for the UFC’s return now revolves around a private island he had secured where international fighters would able to compete if they weren’t able to travel into the United States.
Now it appears White is plotting a full move to the mysterious island where he hopes to hold events sooner rather than later.
“Fight Island is real,” White said. “Fight Island is a real thing. It’s really happening. The infrastructure is being built right now on the island.
“We’re getting ready for Fight Island. Fight Island’s where it’s all going to happen.”