After fighting what was quite frankly a losing battle, Dana White has tapped out. In an e-mail to UFC employees Monday (first noted by a UFC staffer), White announced that the promotion’s next three events — UFC London, UFC Columbus, and UFC Portland — were being postponed. A result, of course, of the coronavirus, the global death toll of which is now over 7000 as of this writing.
White also announced that all UFC officers including their Vegas HQ and the Performance Institute would be closed until March 31. UFC employees were advised to work from home.
The decision comes after all possible avenues for relocation were exhausted. The London show, taking place on March 21, saw numerous fights cancelled, although a couple have moved to the Cage Warriors 113 card in a rare instance of cross-promotion. However, with the promotion looking to Alabama and elsewhere, no solid options presented themselves.
Even the UFC’s home base in Nevada was taken off the table, after the NSAC opted to ban all combat sports events until at least March 25. That excluded the possibility of hosting UFC London at the company’s Apex facility (where Dana White’s Contender Series is filmed) and gave very little breathing room for UFC on ESPN 8 — which had been expected for Columbus, Ohio at the end of March.
White’s full e-mail can be read below (via MMA Junkie).
This has been a crazy couple of weeks.
We’ve been doing everything possible to stick to our live events schedule because the fighters want to fight, our employees want to work, and the fans want to watch our sport.
So many people have reached out over the past few days to say thanks for not canceling our Brasilia event on Saturday. When weird things happen in the world, or when there’s a tragedy, like the October 1 shooting, people want things to get back to normal, and nothing feels more normal than watching sports.
We did everything we could to relocate our next three events– London, Columbus, and Portland. But every day, there are new restrictions put in place on travel and large public gatherings that are making it impossible to stay on schedule. We can’t even hold an event in Vegas, our home town, because there’s a ban on all combat sports events in Nevada until at least March 25.
As you heard me say, I’ve been in the fight game for 20 years, and this is what we do—we find a way to keep our events going no matter what. If fighters miss weight, if fighters get hurt, or if states won’t regulate us, we figure out a way. But this is different. The whole world is being affected right now, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your families.
That’s why we are closing all UFC offices effective immediately, including HQ in Vegas, through at least March 31st, and asking all employees to work from home. The PI will also be closed to all personnel, including athletes, during this time. The next three events– London, Columbus, and Portland—will be postponed. UFC 249 is still scheduled as planned, but the location may change. We’ll keep you posted.
I tell you guys all the time, you are the BEST TO EVER DO IT. It feels shitty now, but WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, and we’ll be TOUGHER, STRONGER, AND MORE BADASS than before.
Right now, the number one priority is to take care of yourselves and your family.
Finally, I want you to know that UFC has your back. If you or any member of your family is showing symptoms of coronavirus and you’re having trouble getting to a doctor, please reach out to me, Lawrence, or Hunter.
UFC 249’s status is very much on the bubble. As White notes, it remains scheduled for April 18, a full month out. However, various estimates on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 exist, and when the virus might peak in the U.S. remains to be seen.