UFC owner Dana White is still adamant that UFC 249 should go ahead, despite the current ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic around the world.
Following the recent announcements of most of the major sporting events being put on hold or cancelled around the world, including arguably the biggest one of them all - the summer Olympics in Tokyo - which has now been pushed back to 2021, fans have been crying out for White to react and postpone all his upcoming events.
This has not put off White, however, who said in a live interview with Yahoo Sports: “I don’t think I am a high risk guy for this thing, and if I’m wrong then the coronavirus is going to get me. It is what it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. I’m not going to refuse to live my life. I’m not going to hide.
“It’s like hiding from cancer. You can’t hide from this thing. If you are a high risk person, this thing is going to get you.”
White has subsequently been highly criticised by both fans and the media, with associate editor of Bloody Elbow Zane Simon saying in response: “Dana White comparing COVID-19 to cancer just shows that no amount of money can stop you being the dumbest person west of the Mississippi.”
UFC have already postponed their next three events, however, the UFC 249 card is set to take place in less than a month’s time.
This is set to feature dream match up between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. White has already declared that the event would be behind closed doors.
The solution that White has put forward is that the fight goes ahead behind closed doors, but a venue is still to be revealed following the previous location New York no longer being viable as the city will still be in lockdown.
Both the fighters would also need to know the location before fight week otherwise it would be impractical to go through with it. This provides UFC with 20 days to find a new location.
Ferguson would be less than keen to fly out to Russia to fight while the logical fall back in the States would be Las Vegas, where Khabib has already stated he is not prepared to compete in Nevada following UFC 229 and the heated bout against Conor McGregor.
This leaves limited options, however, White has already revealed that he has found a venue, which is yet to make public. It is, however, reported to be in Dubai because of the heat.
If this fight were to go ahead, it would only feature this bout with most of the card subsequently being cancelled, minimising the number of people involved.
Ultimately, however, this has the potential to be one of the greatest UFC fights of a generation between two of the best lightweights in the world, the legacy of this fight will certainly be tarnished because it was only held in front of an almost empty arena.
The fans deserve the media build-up; the hype and the opportunity to witness it live in person. If this fight were to go ahead under these circumstances, the magic of this spectacle will certainly be lost.
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