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Dana White promises to ‘make things right’ for UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje fighters

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UFC 249 has been finally officially cancelled, and future UFC events are now on indefinite hold. But Dana White tells ESPN that he won’t leave the athletes expecting to compete on April 18th out in the cold.

UFC president Dana White has a message to everyone who refuses to go back to full normalcy amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It’s more unclear than ever what the immediate future of the UFC will look like. Just two days ago it seemed that the promotion had cleared a path forward to get back to putting on events for the next several months, starting with their UFC 249 PPV card—moved to the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on tribal lands. From that point, Dana White told media he had “secured a private island” to host multiple UFC cards in coming weeks.

It may have skirted commission oversight, and absolutely defied government guidelines for events and social distancing, but White was adamant that the UFC was going to pull it off. After an intervention from Disney & ESPN brass however, the future of those plans is a lot less clear. White revealed in an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he was asked to “stand down” by “the highest level you can go in Disney, and the highest level you can go of ESPN.”

For fighters looking at the upcoming PPV as an opportunity to collect a badly needed paycheck, however, the news isn’t all bad. During the same interview, White promised that he’d be taking care of the athletes that agreed to step up and fight at UFC 249.

“All of my fighters that are under contract with me, I want them to feel safe,” White said, “take time with your families, and enjoy this time. Don’t worry about the financial part of this. You’re gonna get the fights on your contract. And, I’m gonna make things right with the people who were willing to step up and fight this weekend. Not this weekend, but next weekend—on April 18th. And I’m gonna take care of as many people as I possibly can, and do whatever it takes to make these guys all feel comfortable. All of my employees—nobody’s getting laid off at the UFC, everybody’s good. We will be the first sport back.

White also promised that “Fight Island” is “real” and that the infrastructure is currently under construction. The UFC president also made it clear that when the promotion returns to California, they will be bringing Tachi Palace a “big fight” as a thank you for standing with the UFC and being prepared to move forward with their upcoming PPV, had the event gone on as planned.