UFC President Dana White made an official statement about the UFC’s plans for their upcoming events in response to concerns about the coronavirus.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 13, 2020
UFC President Dana White broke his silence on Thursday night in regards to how the mixed martial arts giant will operate as global concerns grow over the coronavirus (COVID-19). First, White made an appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter and explained the plans for the cards coming up in March.
White confirmed that Saturday’s event would take place in Brasilia without fans and that upcoming events that were scheduled in Columbus, Ohio and Portland, Oregon would be relocated to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. In regards to next week’s event in London, White said that the current plan was for it to proceed as scheduled in the UK and with fans in attendance. He also mentioned that he had been in contact with the President of the United States and that the UFC was working with the government on how best to move forward.
“We [The UFC] always go overboard with health and safety, and that’s what we’re going to do here. I talked to the president and the vice president of the United States today about this. They’re taking this very serious. They’re saying ‘Be cautious, be careful, but live your life and stop panicking. Everybody is panicking, and instead of panicking, we’re actually getting out there and working with doctors and health officials and the government to figure out how we keep the sport safe and how we can continue to put on events.”
In regards to safety measures for fans and other personnel involved, White mentioned the use of new technology that will use infrared to check the temperature of an individual as they enter the arena and ensure the health and safety of everyone in attendance.
— Dana White (@danawhite) March 13, 2020
On social media, Dana White released a statement directed towards fans explaining the changes and that the situation meant that fans may not be able to attend the fights live. In both appearances, White did not mention the plans for the highly anticipated UFC 249 fight card set for April 18 that features lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov against Tony Ferguson. However, White did emphasize in his social media message that they are “moving forward with all of our events.”
The mixed martial arts world spent the better part of Thursday anticipating news from the UFC after major leagues such as the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS had announced they were suspending play indefinitely by early afternoon. Other promotions such as Bellator and Combate Americas have already announced the postponement of events or plans to hold them behind closed doors as well.