The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster for MMA fans. The status of UFC 249 has changed several times, yet it seemed as if the show was on track to take place next weekend. Unfortunately, UFC president Dana White has confirmed that UFC 249 is canceled.
Putting on a major sporting event this month was never going to be easy. Today, we’re going to look at why exactly this card has been shut down. We’ll also discuss when we may see the next UFC card take place.
Let’s get into it!
Breaking Down the Timeline to UFC 249
The UFC has always done things differently. Back in the early 2000s, the MMA promotion was on the brink of collapse and company officials needed to take drastic steps in order to avoid bankruptcy. In many ways, the UFC continues to pave its own way today.
In March, all US sports leagues announced they were shutting down. The new coronavirus had quickly begun spreading around the country and commissioners realized it would be impossible to hold any games. Only the UFC expressed a desire to get back on track.
UFC president Dana White eventually told the media that the UFC 249 event would be held on April 18th. Its location was forced to change, yet promotion seemed determined to keep the show going. Some felt the card would take place in Las Vegas, where the UFC is headquartered.
By late March, Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced out of the main event against Tony Ferguson and many analysts felt it was time to announce the event was canceled.
Officials in the UFC disagreed. Earlier this week, news broke that Justin Gaethje had stepped in to replace Khabib and an entire card was formed. Dana White revealed he’d secured a location for UFC 249 and things seemed to be moving forward.
It was one of the most unusual months in the history of mixed martial arts. The UFC was willing to go against all of the country’s health advisories in order to put on a show. Unfortunately, this entire situation has finally been put to an end.
Officials Confirm that UFC 249 is Canceled Indefinitely
Most fans were overjoyed to hear the UFC would be putting on an event this month. It brought about a sense of normalcy during these highly unusual times. Some media analysts, however, voiced their opinion that the show should not take place amid a global pandemic.
Dana White and others inside the UFC seemed to tune these opinions out. It seemed as if nothing would stop the company from going ahead with things. White even told the media he’d rented a private island to start hosting international shows.
Today, news broke that UFC 249 is canceled. According to Dana White, the heads of Disney and ESPN reached out and asked the UFC to postpone its operations. He spoke in detail about the situation to veteran MMA reporter Brett Okamoto.
“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’ve started our relationship and partnership with ESPN is that 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.”
It’s unclear when the UFC will get back on track. If Dana White has his way, it will be before any other sports leagues do.
“We will be the first sport back,” White said. “‘Fight Island’ is real. It’s a real thing. The infrastructure’s being built right now, and that’s really going to happen and it will be on ESPN.”