What you need to know
- UFC President Dana White confirms the next three fight events are postponed.
- White said new location was set, but restrictions from CDC make it impossible.
- UFC 249 is still scheduled for April 18, but could be outside of the U.S.
UFC had kept its MMA fights going as the last major live sport active during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the changing restrictions as the U.S. attempts to contain the spread of the virus has finally caused the promotion to shutdown events temporarily. On Monday, March 16 UFC President Dana White confirmed on ESPN Sportscenter that the next three UFC events have all been postponed.
There will be no UFC Fight Night events scheduled for the next four weeks. This postponement affects UFC Fight Night London with Woodley vs. Edwards on March 21, as well as two Fight Night events that had already been relocated to the private UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas — Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik on March 28 and Overeem vs. Harris on April 11. Two of these events were originally slated for ESPN Plus, and one was set for ESPN. With so many other live sports shut down, the UFC event this past weekend was on both ESPN and ESPN+. If these had continued on, they could have been simulcast on both as well.
In the interview on ESPN, White specifically cited a Monday Press Conference by the U.S President, which included new recommendations by the Center for Disease Control that large gatherings of 10 people or more be avoided. The UFC head said that producing a TV event, even without a crowd, was impossible under those restrictions. This came after the UFC had managed to secure a location, Fire Like Arena in Oklahoma, on an Indian reservation where they had planned to hold these events in private when the restriction still allowed for gatherings up to 50 people. Now that plan is off the table.
"We have no choice now but to postpone these fights. So we're postponing the next three events, but Tony Ferguson versus Khabib, April 18, is still on and that will still happen."@danawhite joined @SportsCenter to address the postponement of upcoming UFC events. pic.twitter.com/FxKOAKnOEv— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 16, 2020
The head of the UFC did insist that the next Pay-Per-View event, UFC 249, would still happen including it's main event fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. However it sounds like fans in New York City are going to be disappointed, as White said of this event "No crowd. Probably not even going to be in the United States." The Pay-Per-View events are big business for the promotion and Khabib is one of their biggest stars, so it is understandable that they're going to try what they can to keep this one on the schedule.
We will continue to monitor any changes to the schedule for UFC 249, and other UFC events. Updates to the location, timing, and fight cards for all events will be shared along with the best way to watch these fights online. For the time being, streaming is going to be the only way to watch these fights even when they resume.
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