Dana White had to pump his brakes on UFC 249 happening on April 18th.
He announced that his partners at Disney and ESPN made the call to force him to curb the event. White went hard attempting to reserve a private island to make the event happen.
UFC President Dana White estimates that "Fight Island" will be "put together" in a month and fighters will be able to train on the private island.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 9, 2020
At first the main event lightweight championship of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson was scheduled for the Barclays Center on April 18th. However, with New York City now being the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo shut all events down.
Immediately, White went into defense mode promising that the fight would happen and he would be the savior of sports for the quarantined. He hasn’t revealed where “fight island” is located but promised that he is building the infrastructure right now on a private island for future events.
The event started slipping out of White’s hands once high level members of his organization expressed some trepidation.
At first, Joe Rogan revealed that he would not be a part of the event out of healthy and safety concerns. Then lightweight champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov revealed that travel restrictions from his native Russia would prevent him from fighting as well.
Quickly, Justin Gaethje was recruited to fight Ferguson and an entire fight card was booked. Former champ Rose Namajunas then backed out due to COVID-19 illnesses in her family and then it started to all fall apart.
UFC president Dana White should be both lauded and chastised for his ambitious dream. Of course, millions of people would love to see real sports action right now. The fact that he was willing to and still is willing to go to extreme lengths to pull it off says a lot about why the UFC is so successful.
However, with this pandemic raging on, there are more important things to be worried about than sports. White has promised none of his staff will be fired during this time and that the UFC will be the first on deck when the pandemic is over.
Thank you Dana White for your zeal and coming to your senses at the same time.