Dana White to UFC fighters: goal is weekly events beginning May 9; other key takeaways
UFC President Dana White met virtually with fighters on Friday, fielding questions and informing them about how he plans to proceed in the coming months.
While White has already announced plans for a revamped UFC 249 fight card on May 9, there has been little detail as to the promotion's future beyond that fight card. White provided a few answers on Friday, as first reported by MMAJunkie, focusing on making sure his fighters were okay and promising to get them back to work as quickly as possible.
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Key Points of Dana White's UFC Fighter Coronavirus Update:
UFC Fighters that don't want to fight don't have to
While White wants to get the UFC back in business as quickly as possible, he reportedly stressed on numerous occasions that fighters who don't feel comfortable competing during the pandemic do not have to. He added that if any fighters or members of their family are having any struggles with health they should reach out to him or his staff.
Fight Locations are not being revealed at this time
Just like the general public, White is not telling his fighters where the May 9 event will be held, nor is he saying where the infamous UFC "Fight Island" is located.
Fighters with canceled fights are first to be offered new dates
The UFC has had to cancel several events since the coronavirus restrictions began in March. Through April 18, four UFC events – in London, Columbus, Portland, and Brooklyn – have been nixed. The upcoming cards in Lincoln and Oklahoma City are also out. UFC 250 was supposed to take place in Brazil on May 9, but that is the target for the revamped UFC 249 fight card somewhere in the United States. There are obviously many fighters that have missed out or are about to miss out on paydays. Those fighters will get first dibs as the UFC rolls out new fight cards.
White's meetings with President Donald Trump are encouraging
One of the biggest reasons why White believes that the UFC is going to be able to hold an event on May 9 and more beyond that date is because he has been part of President Trump's task force conference calls on how to begin re-opening the United States economy. "Many [sports] will be starting without the fans, so it will be made for television, the good old days, made for television," President Trump said earlier this week.
Meeting planned with Nevada governor to open UFC Performance Institute and Apex
In addition to his insider meetings with President Trump, White indicated that he was planning to meet with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to discuss the UFC's options in regard to getting the Performance Institute and the Apex up and running. Once that happens, the UFC will have access to its own arena and production facilities at the Apex, where it can hold closed-door events with very little personnel required.
Fights in the immediate future might be tougher than normal
Though White is looking to get UFC bouts up and running as quickly as possible, and his goal is to begin weekly events starting with the May 9 fight card, fighters will likely face some difficult choices. Some fighters were interested in possibly having catchweight bouts because of limited access to resources during the pandemic. White said that he is not overly inclined to do catchweight bouts, as he feels they have less meaning than divisional-weight bouts. He also noted that because there is likely to be strict limits on how many people can be in attendance at near-term events, fighters may have to make some tough choices on who is in their corner, as there may be limits.
Fight Island might include American fighters
White's idea for Fight Island was initially to have a location that could host international bouts for fighters that have a difficult time traveling into the U.S. during this time of heavy travel restrictions, but he said that U.S.-based fighters could be fighting on the island as well. Fight Island is targeted to be ready to function by mid-to-late May.
White ensured adequate medical staff
Regardless of where UFC events are held in the coming months, White stressed that fighter safety would remain at the forefront. He said medical staff and hospitals would be ready for every event the UFC holds.
UFC International Fight Week isn't looking good
A cornerstone of the UFC's annual schedule, International Fight Week, which takes place each year in July in Las Vegas, is doubtful for 2020.