Shockingly, I understand at least one reason UFC president Dana White pushed forward with UFC 249. That reason is simple, he wants to prove all the “haters” and doubters wrong.
I get that. I don’t know if that’s a normal human impulse, but it is one that I and many others share with White. If someone tells me I can’t do something, I immediately become focused on proving that person wrong, often to an unhealthy degree. I’ll do whatever I can to accomplish that goal. White has the same personality quirk.
“Listen, if you’re a fan, a media member, whatever you might be, do you want to bet against me? You want to bet that I can’t pull stuff off?
“At some point you stop doubting me I’d imagine but maybe not. We’ll see,” White told TSN when speaking about his plans for UFC 249 shortly after the New York State Athletic Commission shutdown the event from happening at Barclays Center over concerns about the global coronavirus pandemic.
I get that. I really do. White enjoys showing people they are wrong to doubt him. But at some point, the desire to prove what he can accomplish blinded White to the many downsides of his single-minded focus of staging a pay-per-view fight card during a global pandemic.
After weeks of looking for a location to hold the event, White told ESPN that UFC 249, which takes place on April 18:
“I’ll tell you this, I’m this close to getting a deal done. So this place where this fight is going to be on April 18 I have locked up for two months, so I’m going to continue to pump fights out. I also secured an island. I’ve got an island. The infrastructure is being built right now. We’re going to do all of our international fights on this island.
“So when we do this fight April 18, international and in the United States, we’re going to start cranking. The UFC will be back up and running, internationally and here in the States.”
Think about that statement. If someone wrote a story about the UFC holding an event on an island, it would sound too farfetched to be satire. It doesn’t sound dissimilar to the ever popular #bargefights. The difference is White was 100 percent serious about holding fight cards on an island.
If White is to believed — a lot can change between now and April 18 — he has proved his point. Congrats to him on that, I guess. But just because the UFC can hold UFC 249 as scheduled doesn’t mean it should hold the event.
There are far too many unanswered questions about this fight card. The biggest question is that of the health and safety of everyone involved, but when asked pointblank about COVID-19 testing, White didn’t exactly answer that question, “Listen, we’re going to go above and beyond and do everything that we can to make sure everybody is safe during this event.” That’s not reassuring.
White has almost two weeks to make the right call for health and safety and postpone UFC 249. No one will applaud him for that since this has dragged on so long, but neither will he get criticism for hitting the pause button until it’s safe to hold the card.
White proved his point. He can make fights happen under the worst circumstances in the past 100 years, outside of war. Knowing that should be enough. I mean, that would be adequate for most people. Unfortunately, I don’t think that alone will satisfy the UFC president. No, instead of being content with his accomplishment, White will needlessly put people’s lives at risk. I guess that’s the difference between White and most people, he’s willing to risk the safety of others to satisfy his ego.