The cancellation of UFC 249 came after interventions from California state officials and Disney & ESPN executives—shortly after the promotion had finalized plans to host their upcoming fight card in Lemoore, CA. But, MMA organization BRAVE CF are claiming the move as something of an individual victory, after the promotion’s president released a statement condemning one man’s “money driven agenda.”
The card had been scheduled to take place on April 18 at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort on tribal land. A report from The New York Times highlighted how California state officials voiced their concerns about the event taking place to the UFC’s broadcast partners, eventually forcing Dana White to “stand down” as the UFC president put it.
Earlier in the week, however, when the card was still alive and kicking, BRAVE CF’s president made it known that in his opinion, MMA events should not be staged until health authorities and governments allow for normal activity to resume. Mohammed Shahid emphasized the importance, he felt, that the MMA world did not give off the impression that the sport doesn’t care about the risks of potentially spreading COVID-19. While he never actually named the UFC, or Dana White, in his statement—the world leaders in mixed martial arts were obviously the target.
Shahid voiced his frustration that the promotion were trying to plow ahead with their schedule and doubled down on the necessity of regulating MMA as the only reasonable way forward for the sport.
Following the event’s cancellation, in a press release from the Bahrain-based organization on Friday morning, BRAVE CF indicated that they feel their president speaking up began the chain of events which caused UFC 249 to be cancelled.
Mr. Shahid led the way as the only major organization promoter to speak up and point out the flagrant flaws in the UFC’s plans and reiterating that MMA would only grow if the focus was the development of the sport, and not money.
And his opinions were soon echoed by federations, sports governing bodies, health authorities and respected sports athletes, leading to further pressure on the UFC to finally succumb to the pressure and the much-debated UFC 249 event was finally called off.
And while their intentions seem noble, on the face of it, it something of a ridiculous claim to make. Pushback against the UFC’s desire to continue holding events had been brewing for weeks.
The fact that media coverage from non-MMA focused publications increased as the event neared and a venue was nailed down likely played some role in the cancellation. But even that seems less likely to have been a major part than the simple factor that once state officials realized the UFC was coming to California, they put their foot down. A move that would have likely happened no matter what, since the UFC had to notify officials of the event in order to have proper medical procedures in place. Everything else surrounding the cancellation of UFC 249 is just hot air.