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Dana White confirms UFC 249 is postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

It’s official. UFC 249 is postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Dana White confirmed the details today in an interview with ESPN reporter Brett Okamto, adding he received a call from Disney and ESPN executives.

“We’ve been fighting non-stop all day and all night since this pandemic started to put on this event on April 18. And today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN,” White said. “One thing that I’ve said since we started our relationship and partnership with ESPN – and it’s been an incredible one, it’s been an amazing partnership. ESPN has been very, very good to us, and the powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday.”

Just two days ago, White was adamant that the card would go on at the never-officially-revealed Tachi Palace Casino Resort in unsanctioned California tribal land, despite Justin Gaethje stepping in for Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event against Tony Ferguson, and yesterday after Rose Namajunas pulling out of her fight against Jessica Andrade.

Not to mention, the avalanche of criticism from the California State Athletic Commission and local senator Dianne Fienstein, whose comments yesterday may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“I’m concerned by reports that Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to hold a pay-per-view event in California, in defiance of the state’s shelter-in-place order,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential. I understand this event is scheduled to take place on tribal land and therefore is not subject to state law. However, at best this event ties up medical resources and sends a message that shelter-in-place orders can be flouted. At worst, participants and support staff could carry the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread.”

“I call on Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Tachi-Yokut Tribe to reconsider this event and delay it until a later date. We have to be responsible and mindful of all local, state and federal public health guidelines. Going ahead with this event is not the right move.”

White thanked the Tachi-Yokut Tribe for offering to hold the card there and promised to gold a card there in the future. He also reiterated there will be no layoffs and promised to take care of as many fighters affected by the postponement.


Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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