Last month, Dana White announced his plans to put on sold-out events by the summer. At the time, the UFC president had Florida and Las Vegas as his venues of choice.
But on Thursday's UFC 259 pre-fight press conference, White expressed eagerness in holding future events in the state of Texas.
“I want to go to Texas ASAP. I’ll go in the next two, three weeks. I’m ready to roll,” White told the media in attendance.
“We’ll be first, we’ll open this thing up, we’ll sell it out and be on our way.”
UFC 260, the next PPV event lined up, is currently slated to take place at the company’s APEX facility. But according to White, the said card could also be relocated.
“I’d move this one (UFC 259) if we could,” he said. “I told everybody when this opened up that I would be first and we would go first. And we will.”
So why the excitement over Texas? On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that eases up the state’s COVID-19 restrictions in a major way. Mask mandates are now lifted. All businesses and facilities are now allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity.
“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.” an excerpt from Gov. Abbott’s official statement reads.
Upon hearing about these new developments, White immediately made some calls.
“As soon as the governor of Texas said that, I called. Dallas said no and I’m working on Houston. So (we’ll) see if we can get Houston done,” he said.
While COVID-19 cases have declined sharply throughout the United States over the past several weeks including in Texas, the Lone Star State still has the 8th highest rate of infection per capita in the country over the past seven days. It also ranks near the bottom of the nation in vaccination rate.
The last UFC event held in front of a large crowd happened a year ago at UFC 248. It took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a little over 15,000 people in attendance.