The good news, if you believe the UFC can safely operate during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is that events are set to get back underway in just under two weeks’ time. The bad news, if you’re a UFC fan, is that you won’t be going to them. Or any other UFC event any time soon, per UFC President Dana White.
Speaking to Yahoo’s Kevin Iole, White was blunt. “Obviously, the world is going to be different and I’ve been thinking far ahead into the future,” he said. “I don’t expect to have a gate for a very long time. I’ve already thrown that out the window. You have to look at all the different things. People think that I don’t take this seriously because I want to come back so fast and all this other stuff.”
“It’s not that I don’t take it seriously. I take it very seriously. I don’t plan on having a gate for a very long time.” That’s a very different White from the one who, just over a month ago, told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter that “I don’t give a sh*t about the coronavirus.”
Instead, faced with the reality that the world is simply not the same as it was three months ago, White admitted that “I’m already thinking way ahead of these types of things. All I need to worry about is making sure everybody is safe and I can put on these events. I don’t need a crowd.”
Safety, apparently, means the UFC will be opening up its pocketbook. “We’re going to spend a lot of money. It’s not going to be cheap,” White told Iole. “It’s going to be expensive. You’re worried about the health and safety of everybody: The health and safety of the fighters, the commission, the referees, my staff that’s going to be there. It’s not cheap. It’s expensive. It’s hard, but somebody’s got to take the first step and get out there.”
What the UFC President would not do, apparently, is confirm whether the promotion would actually be testing for the virus — rather than move forward with temperature checks and the like. With less than two weeks until the rescheduled, relocated, rebuilt UFC 249 card goes down, that’s something of a concern.
UFC 249 is set to take place in Jacksonville, Florida, with the state having deemed professional sports as “essential business.” That means they can open up shop, minus fans of course. The WWE and AEW, America’s two biggest professional wrestling promotions, have continued to operate in the state, although both taped content in advance for a period. AEW has not reported any performers or crew testing positive, but the WWE has had at least one “on camera talent” (a non-wrestler who appears on screen) test positive for SARS-CoV-19.