Only a 'total shutdown of the country' over coronavirus will stop Dana White from holding UFC events

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports

As the sports world shuts down amid a coronavirus outbreak and pleas from experts to avoid large gatherings, UFC president Dana White is doing his best to proceed with as many events as he can.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

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White said on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Saturday night that only a total shutdown of the country — likely analogous to what is happening in Italy right now — will stop his promotion from holding fights.

Dana White refuses to cancel events over coronavirus

“Unless there’s a total shutdown of the country where people can’t leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen,” White said. “We’re gonna move on. These guys will compete. We will find venues, and we will figure this thing out. I mean, the only thing that’s gonna stop us is a complete government shutdown where everyone is confined to their homes.”

The benefits for the UFC by doing this are pretty obvious: Not lose out one the millions of dollars at stake with multiple UFC events facing cancellation. Take advantage of a world thirsting for sporting events to watch and reap the financial windfall. Introduce millions of sports fans to the world of MMA.

The negatives are, well, endangering the lives of spectators and everyone in subsequent contact with them. Even holding events without spectators like at UFC Brasilia is questionable given that athletes are quite clearly not immune from the virus.

Dana White does not want to let the coronavirus stop the UFC from making money. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Dana White does not want to let the coronavirus stop the UFC from making money. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Where will the UFC go as coronavirus bans kick in?

The effects of coronavirus were first felt in the UFC world on Saturday when UFC Brasilia was held without spectators following an order of the local governor.

The UFC is still attempting to navigate the new normal of city and state governments banning large gatherings of people to slow down the spread of coronavirus, with all four of its events over the next month requiring relocation.

Those events are

The cancellation or postponement of UFC 249, in particular, would be frustrating for fans as the matchup between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has already seen a scheduled fight called off an incredible four different times.

According to one email acquired by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, White’s company is pushing hard to find fighters willing to join its cards.

UFC nearly alone in continuing to hold events despite coronavirus

Sports leagues that have suspended/delayed their seasons or canceled events include the NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA, MLS, PGA Tour, England’s Premier League Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1.

The CDC recommended the cancellation or postponement of all events with more than 50 people on Sunday.

In justifying why he is still trying to hold events, White said Thursday he received advice from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to “be cautious, be careful, but live your life and stop panicking.”

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