UFC became the last of the major sports leagues and entities to suspend operations on Monday, as they announced they’ll be postponing their next three fights due to the COVID-19 outbreak after putting on a fight over the weekend despite most every other league having already suspended their seasons.
UFC president Dana White had insisted on pushing forward, with the support of Donald Trump, but when Trump’s tune changed Monday to finally addressing the severity of the pandemic and noting that things will likely not get back to normal until July or August at the earliest, UFC finally pulled the plug on upcoming fights. However, they are not planning on postponing UFC 249, which features Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson in the main event, and that April 18 date will still go on, as White told SportsCenter. The only question for White is where, as he notes it’ll likely be outside the U.S. and feature no fans in attendance.
Dana White says Khabib-Ferguson will happen on April 18. "This fight is going to happen. No crowd. Whatever it takes, probably not even going to be in the United States, but this fight is going to happen." pic.twitter.com/slkTOqPngG
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 16, 2020
This still seems wildly optimistic and unlikely, but one can’t put it past UFC to move the fight somewhere that’s willing to bring them in and sanction the fight. That, as he notes, will almost assuredly not be in the U.S. given that it remains in the CDC’s current recommendation of an eight-week ban on gatherings of 50-plus people.
It also seems as though they would need to go to a place where the fighters could be tested for COVID-19 before fighting, but who knows if that will be the case. This seems to be an unnecessary push to keep fights happening by UFC given the severity of the outbreak and the necessity of social distancing right now, but they surely see an opportunity to be the only show in town for millions of people and can’t help but try and figure out how to put on a production.