As the global COVID-19 death toll continues to rise, it is surreal to see leading countries close their borders and entire economies grind to a halt on account of government-mandated shutdowns. Meanwhile, in the world of mixed martial arts, there is a cadre of denialists vying to return to business as usual.
Chief among this group is Ultimate Fighting Championship Dana White, whose attitude from the beginning of the crisis was aptly summarized in a quote he produced during an interview with TSN earlier this month: “I don’t give a s— about the coronavirus. As far as I’m concerned, we’re going to continue to run our business.”
Since that time, the pandemic has managed to thwart three of the UFC’s shows, with UFC Fight Night 171 (March 21), UFC on ESPN 8 (March 28) and UFC Fight Night 172 (April 11) being postponed after Nevada banned all combat sports events. However, the promotion is barreling ahead with the flagship UFC 249 card on April 18, anchored by a main event featuring lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson. White announced in an Instagram Live interview with Yahoo’s Kevin Iole that the promotion had locked down a venue in an undisclosed location and was currently sorting out travel arrangements for the 26 athletes slated to compete. Beyond that, White has committed to resuming the UFC’s regular schedule and re-booking the postponed shows in short succession—a move which could see the promotion attempt a mind-boggling 12 events between now and the middle of the year.
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