The COVID-19 pandemic has canceled all live sports for the time being, but UFC president Dana White is still pushing forward with UFC 249, which is scheduled for April 18.
There’s no indication that the pandemic will be receding by then, and since most shelter-in-place orders will still be in effect, White is planning to run the event without fans. He hasn’t even revealed where it’s taking place — he told ESPN that the arrangements aren’t official yet, and until they are he’ll only say that UFC 249 is happening at an “undisclosed location.”
The cancellation of live sports has only increased White’s desire to put on UFC 249. He’s already expecting to make some changes due to the restrictions put in place due to the outbreak, but even with the card headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson, White wants to amp it up.
"We're trying to build the baddest card that's ever been done in the history of the sport," White told ESPN. "Some of the things are going to work out and some of the things might not work out. We're trying to figure out if [some things] don't work out, what we do."
White told ESPN that he’s trying to add big fights that have recently been postponed to the card, but he only mentioned one specifically: the heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, which was supposed to happen at the now-postponed UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.
Ngannou has been tested for the coronavirus by UFC physicians and the test came back negative. Ngannou told ESPN that he’s eager to fight, but hasn’t yet heard word about his opponent, or even that the fight is officially being rescheduled.
There’s a good reason for that. Rozenstruik’s manager, Malki Kawa, spoke to ESPN and said that they’ve heard nothing from the UFC about rescheduling the fight. Kawa didn’t mention whether Rozenstruik has been tested for COVID-19.
White has his work cut out for him if he wants to put together the “baddest card” ever for UFC 249. The question is whether he’ll able to actually do it — and if the event will even happen.
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