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After a massive undertaking that saw the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion host three events in a span of eight days during a pandemic, UFC president Dana White was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief on Saturday night.
“It feels good. I’m happy to have it behind me,” White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference following UFC on ESPN 8. “I wanted this week to be over. It was successful in every way it could be successful. I feel good about it. More importantly, nobody’s sick. Nobody’s gotten sick. Hopefully that’s the case. There’s no guarantees in life, but hopefully that’s the case when we all go home. It was a great event, it was a great week….I’m ready to go home though.”
After an approximately two-month delay due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Las Vegas-based promotion set up shop at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, for a trio of events that began with UFC 249 on May 9 and concluded with UFC on ESPN 8 on Saturday.
The upcoming schedule appears to be tentative, at best. The card planned for May 23 was scrapped, but for now, May 30 is “100 percent” on, according to White. The desired venue remains the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, but Nevada and its athletic commission have yet to make a decision on the resumption of combat sports in the state.
“I don’t know yet, but that’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re hoping for,” White said. “We’re rolling now. If we can’t get May 30 at the Apex, it’s gonna be super disappointing, but we will go somewhere else.”
If Sin City is ruled out for the coming weeks, it appears that the UFC will have an alternative option in Arizona after Gov. David Ducey cleared the way for professional sports leagues to operate in the state after May 15.
“That’s where I’ll go. That’s 100 percent where I’ll go,” White admitted.
For the most part, White didn’t have many answers regarding the weeks to come — including the readiness of the oft-discussed Fight Island. While the upcoming fight cards are uncharacteristically barren, White claims that he has no shortage of athletes hoping to compete.
“People are training right now. People want to fight,” White said. “I don’t see an issue making a fight with anybody right now. Other than Rose [Namajunas], and there might be others. I don’t know if this is a fact but I don’t think there’s anybody else that’s thrown up any issues about fighting right now.”
Also of interest was the advertisement for UFC 250 on Saturday’s broadcast. While June 6 was the originally scheduled date, the most recent promotion only confirmed that the event was “coming in June.” White said things will become more clear when he and his staff return to Las Vegas and get back to work early next week.
“Nothing has mattered to us but this week right now. This is all we care about — getting through this week,” White said. “We go home. We start getting back in the office next week. All of our employees are being tested [for coronavirus] right now. So we’re testing the whole company, and we’re getting everybody back to work. The matchmaking meeting is Tuesday, so we’ll get our s—t together next week.”
Of course, things must fall into place for Las Vegas quickly, otherwise White and the UFC will be working on another contingency plan that will have to come together in short order.
“Now I’ve got to get the thumbs up for Nevada, which hopefully we’re doing this next fight in the Apex,” he said. “Because if not, we’ll be working on Arizona next.”
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