UFC 249 will move forward behind closed doors.
In an Instagram Live session with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, UFC President Dana White confirmed that the card would move forward — without fans in attendance.
“I do [have the location for UFC 249], but I’m not ready to tell you yet,” White said of the event.
“There aren’t going to be any fans there,” he later added (via Yahoo Sports). “This thing is going to be a closed event. Everybody who is going to be involved in this thing is going to be involved because they want to be involved.”
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov recently returned to Russia to finish training for the event, which has him lined up to face Tony Ferguson in the main event. It’s a fight that has fallen through, notoriously, four times previously.
Russia would seem to be in the running for the closed-door event as a result, but there are numerous other possibilities. New York, however, is out — the card was originally planned for Brooklyn. Nevada also seems to be off the table, with the NSAC cancelling a Wednesday meeting over coronavirus concerns.
White, however, has remained steadfast in insisting UFC 249 move ahead as planned. Of course he also insisted on pushing forward with UFC London, right up until the card essentially disintegrated before our very eyes in the wake of the U.K. enacting social distancing measures, and travel restrictions popping up all across the globe.
Despite that setback, the UFC President isn’t budging on UFC 249. “How many times do I got to say this is happening?” he exclaimed during his Instagram Live chat with Iole. “Khabib-Tony is on. April 18. It’s happening.”
It’s not just Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson that is on. White would later tell Brett Okamoto of ESPN that the full card would go down as scheduled.
Per Dana White (@danawhite), a location for Khabib Nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) vs Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) is "99.9 percent done." Confirms Khabib is back in Russia. I also asked him if it will be a full undercard for UFC 249 or a shortened lineup, he said full lineup.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) March 24, 2020
The UFC is the only major sports organization on the planet that is pushing ahead with events in the face of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly 400,000 people globally and resulted in over 17,000 deaths as of this writing. On Monday, Canada announced it would not be sending athletes to the 2020 Summer Olympics if they were held as planned in Tokyo, Japan. Shortly after, news broke that that games would likely be pushed back, possibly to 2021. The NHL and NBA had previously postponed their seasons, while Major League Baseball has cancelled spring training and pushed back the start of its regular season.