Editor's note: The article has been updated at 9:15 p.m. ET on 4/9/20 with additional information.
The day that many in the community feared would come has now arrived: the Ultimate Fighting Championship has postponed all upcoming fight cards.
According to ESPN on Thursday, the UFC has been forced to shut down its upcoming UFC 249 event on April 18. Additionally, all upcoming cards will not be taking place as scheduled and have been indefinitely postponed, per UFC President Dana White in an interview with ESPN. It is unclear exactly which slated events are off the table, as the promotion has cards booked through June, or how long until the UFC will be back in operation.
According to White, top Disney and ESPN executives shut down these events. He said, “Today, we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney, and the highest level of ESPN. And one thing that I’ve said since we started our relationship and partnership with ESPN that’s been an incredible one, it’s been an amazing partnership. ESPN has been very very good to us, and the powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday.”
The NY Times later reported on Thursday that the pressure placed on Disney may have come from the state government. According to the newspaper, California Governor Gavin Newsom called Disney officials to ask them to rethink their plans of the fight card on April 18. Newsom was not the only California official to request this, as Senator Dianne Feinstein posted a statement asking the UFC to delay the event.
White went on to confirm that the prospective location of the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, Calif., was correctly reported as the destination of UFC 249. He further explained, “When the world gets back to normal, the California event will be at Tachi Palace.”
The UFC president reassured everyone that his athletes and staff would be taken care of, given that many fighters do not have primary sources of income outside of combat sports.
“All of my fighters that are under contract with me, I want them to feel safe, take time with your families and…enjoy this time," he stated. "Don’t worry about the financial part of this. You’re gonna get the fights on your contract, and I’m gonna make things right with the people who were willing to step up and fight…next weekend on April 18. And I’m gonna take care of as many people as I possibly can and do whatever it takes to make these guys feel comfortable. All my employees, nobody’s getting laid off at the UFC, everybody’s good, we will be the first sport back.”
White concluded by giving one more nugget of information: the private island he discussed is a reality, and it is actually being put together to hold future UFC events.
“’Fight Island’ is real, it’s a real thing. The infrastructure is being built right now. That’s really gonna happen, and it will be on ESPN.”
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