While COVID-19 may have affected major global sporting events, the UFC 249 looks relatively unfazed and is all set to take place on a “private island” in California.
The Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 is postponed. The Wimbledon 2020 stands cancelled. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill. With most of the global sporting events getting cancelled or postponed, the coronavirus outbreak has completely engulfed the sporting world. However, even in such a precarious global situation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) looks all set to commence this month on tribal lands in central California. UFC literally seems to be unfazed by the COVID-19 pandemic!
UFC 249 to take place on a “private island”
Dana White, the president of UFC, has confirmed that the mixed martial event is close to securing a “private land” to stage bouts for international fighters amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision comes as the contagious virus has claimed more than 70,000 deaths globally. So the UFC is determined to stick to its schedule albeit without any fans.
The UFC, which was earlier forced to postpone three of its events, will now resume its calendar with UFC 249 scheduled to start from 18th April. After the Barclays Center in New York backed out to stage the championship, Dana White has confirmed that he has found a new venue for the event.
“This place where this fight is going to be on April 18, I have locked up for two months, so I’m going to continue to pump fights out.” – Dana White
UFC goes against ‘stay at home’ orders
According to reports and word of mouth from some people, the “private island” that White is talking about could be the Tachi Palace Casino Resort near Lemoore in California. The casino was closed in late March because of the pandemic and is on land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut tribe.
However, the Association of Ringside Physicians, which represents safety personnel in combat sports, has asked for suspension for all combat sports in the world. As a result, by holding the event on tribal land, the UFC is not subject to the association’s order of people staying at home.
It will be intriguing how the UFC comes up against these orders, especially without the backing of a live audience.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson now a
Despite countries locking down borders and
putting travel restrictions, White is all well planned to get back his group of
non- US fighters back in action.
“I won’t be able to get all of the international fighters into the U.S. so I’m going to start flying them off into the island and do international fights there. As of April 18, the UFC is back up and running.” – Dana White on UFC 249
White further stated that he has planned to put on fights every week. All supports staff, players and the UFC crew members will be tested regularly for the virus.
Initially scheduled to be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, UFC 249 was supposed to be headlined by a lightweight championship bout between current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson – one of the most anticipated UFC matches. But Khabib has confirmed that he won’t be able to make it to the UFC event as he is in quarantine in Russia.
It will be interesting to see if UFC 249 will be able to cheer up the fans amid this crisis. Fingers crossed!