UFC 249 has been cancelled and all future events postponed indefinitely because of coronavirus.
UFC president Dana White was adamant next weekend’s fight night would go ahead despite the global pandemic that has seen sports leagues around the world grind to a halt.
White repeatedly dismissed the seriousness of the global pandemic, attacking the media for fear-mongering while saying the show must go on.
But on Friday morning it was confirmed the UFC could no longer march to the beat of its own drum.
BREAKING: UFC 249 has been canceled. All UFC events postponed indefinitely, due to COVID-19. Dana White says he was ready to promote the event but things were taken out of his control. Much, much more on this to come.
According to MMA reporter Ariel Helwani, White said he was asked to "stand down” by executives of Disney and the UFC’s broadcast partner ESPN, even though he wanted the fights to go ahead.
White was so desperate for UFC 249 and further events to go ahead he was reportedly going to purchase a private island to stage fights — a plan which hasn't come to fruition.
Despite what seemed like an inevitable cancellation, White was already optimistic about the future.
“We will be the first sport back. Fight island is real. It’s a real thing,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “The infrastructure’s being built right now, and that’s really going to happen. And it will be on ESPN.”
Rose Namajunas had already pulled out of UFC 249 before it was cancelled.Source:News Corp Australia
The announcement fights have been cancelled comes after former women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas pulled out her co-headline bout against Jessica Andrade at UFC 249 because of two coronavirus deaths in her family.
Namajunas’ manager Brian Butler wrote on social media: “@rosenamajunas withdrew from UFC 249 due to 2 deaths in the family related to the Coronavirus. Her hopes are to return to the Octagon as soon as possible but for now we ask for people to respect their privacy during this time.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov, unable to leave Russia over the country’s coronavirus travel ban, was the first big name to come off the fight card. His mega-fight with Tony Ferguson was rebooked as Ferguson against Justin Gaethje in an interim lightweight title bout.
More to come …
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