Dana White may not be absolutely sure what the next few weeks are going to look like for the UFC, “If you’d asked me questions 10 days ago, I could have answered any of them,” he told Aaron Bronsteter in an interview with TSN. However, he doesn’t sound any less confident that the UFC will be back to running fight cards by UFC 249 at the very least.
And in fact, if it weren’t for the latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines – recommending the cancellation of gatherings larger than 10 people – fans might still be getting ready to watch the UFC London event that had been planned for this weekend—even if it wouldn’t have ended up being in England.
“Of course, of course there would,” White confirmed, when asked if there would have been a UFC event this weekend if it weren’t for the CDC’s latest directive. “And we’ve followed and complied with all the rules. Every time they’ve come out and said—I can’t remember what the first number was, and then the second number was 50, so we figured that out. And then once they got to 10? We’re good, but we can’t pull that one off.”
Despite doing no COVID-19 testing of fighters before or after the latest UFC card in Brazil, White made it clear he feels the UFC is very used to keeping on top of medical concerns. And that while the UFC may be preparing to go ahead with events in the not too distant future, having postponed their three upcoming fight cards, they’re not circumventing government orders.
“Well, we didn’t try to circumvent them,” White said when asked about the UFC’s attempt to move their upcoming fight cards to tribal land, “we talked to them. All of them were in the loop with everything that we were doing. I would never go do something without checking with the athletic commissions first, making sure that they were okay with it.”
Whatever form it takes, White was still adamant that UFC 249’s main event will be going ahead, “Khabib and Tony is gonna happen. We’re gonna figure that out. We’re gonna make that happen, and then it’s just gonna be a matter of how quickly we can get back to being normal.”
But, when asked if the UFC would have had a mandatory quarantining in place for fighters following UFC London, had they been able to go ahead with the card, White still sounded like a man just coming to grips with the scale of the crisis around him. “I have no idea,” he told TSN, about taking potential quarantine measures.
Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a constantly shifting problem for businesses that rely on gathering together large groups of people. Especially in sports and entertainment industries. The UFC may be bullish in their desire to get back to “normal” as fast as possible, but that could easily take a lot longer than they’re prepared to wait.