After UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of the highly anticipated fight with Tony Ferguson, fans were wondering if UFC will cancel UFC 249 entirely. However, UFC president Dana White managed to pull together a stacked card even if a highly contagious virus is wreaking havoc around the world.
Justin Gaethje will step in at short notice to take on Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title on April 18. Dana White didn’t mention the venue and is keeping it a big secret.
Dana White also said that as of April 18, UFC is up and running. He said that he had secured the venue for UFC 249 for two more months. White also said that he was close to booking a private Island for international flights as it wasn’t possible for UFC to fly them into the US.
He recently gave an interview to Brett Okamoto of ESPN, where he said how the whole thing came into being.
Cancellation of Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov was nobody’s fault
Dana White made it clear at the beginning of the interview that the cancellation of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson was nobody’s fault. The pair have been scheduled to fight five-times, but it was cancelled every single time.
“Everybody knows that the Khabib fight fell off….but the reality is that it is nobody’s fault,” White said.
“Every day, when I got up, the rules changed…things were shutting down, things were closing down. Many people thought that this would be impossible for us to pull off, but I am in the mindset that nothing is impossible…we will get this figured out, when there is a will there is a way.
“He got caught up in Russia and it was a total mishap and we all made mistakes and nobody is to blame for that. The fact that we can pull off an event right now…this is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.
UFC will be up and running from April 18
Dana White said that the venue that will be used for UFC 249 has been secured for the next two months. So the UFC will be able to constantly produce fight cards every week. He also mentioned that he has secured an Island that will host international fights.
“I am very close to getting a deal done, so this place where the April 18 card is taking place…I have locked up for two months. So I am going to continue to pump fights out and I have also secured an Island, I have got an Island and the infrastructure is being built right now. We are going to do all of our international fights in this Island.
“So when we do this fight on April 18…we will be back up and running both internationally and locally. We are going back to back to back, we are getting back into our regular schedule. So we will have postponed three-fights, so we will make these fights up and we will be right back on schedule starting April 18.
“We are working on those cards now,” White said when asked if the cards for the previous three cancelled events are ready. “They are under construction and we are working on them now.”
UFC is going over and beyond to make sure everyone is medically taken care of
CDC has made it clear during its briefing to avoid crowded places. So there are concerns regarding the possibility of UFC putting on fights with lesser people in the venue. Dana White said that the UFC is going above and beyond to make sure everyone present at the venue is safe from the coronavirus outbreak.
“Health and safety is something we worry all the time and not just during Coronavirus. This (outbreak) has made our job a little tougher, but we are going to do everything above and beyond to make sure everybody is safe associated with this event, just like we always do.
“So we have consulted with our doctor (Dr. Davidson), who has consulted with many other doctors,” White said on receiving the medical advice to pull off such an event. “Like I said the health and safety of not just the athlete, but the athletic commission that will be there, the referees and judges that will be there, my production staff and I am going to be there too. We are making sure that everybody is being taken care of.” White added.
There will be an athletic commission and drug testing for these events
White added that the fights will take place regularly as any other UFC events. He also emphasized on the fact that there will be an athletic commission and drug testing for these events.
“Yeah there’s an athletic commission,” White said. “They will be drug tested as well like any other regular UFC event.”
Dana White: I am not doing this for the money
Fans have been criticizing Dana White for trying to put up fights. White has been called greedy for putting up fights during an ongoing pandemic that has infected 1.2 million people worldwide.
However, the UFC president made it clear that he isn’t doing it for the money.
“When the people look at me, they are like ‘Oh! this guy is doing this because he is money hungry’……I don’t need the money,” White said.
“I didn’t need the money four years ago, I could have left. When people say that this is all about me…I got a great house, I can do this for the next five years, I have the money. So this is not about the money, it has never been about the money for me. I believe that at some point we have to move forward. The answer isn’t to stay at the home till September, that is not a possibility. I just don’t think that’s the reality…people aren’t going to stay at there house till September, so how do we figure out the solutions
“Maybe in my own little world here, if I can make this happen and pull this off and everybody is safe, then maybe other leagues will start looking at it and go how do we do it too,” White said.
Anybody who is a part of this event is safer than anybody seating at their house
Dana White couldn’t emphasize on this fact enough that the UFC is going above and beyond to make sure anybody who is part of these events is safe.
“Anybody who shows up to this event or is a part of it will be safer than anybody seating at their house. They’re gonna have access to the best medical attention, the best doctors, the best treatment you could possibly get. You’re safer being at this event with me than actually going home or being at the grocery store,” White added.
Why are Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje fighting for the interim title?
This will be the second time, Tony Ferguson will be fighting for the interim title. He previously became the interim lightweight champion after beating Kevin Lee at UFC 216.
“You have two of the top guys in the world and everybody felt that if Conor was going to get a shot at Khabib, then Gaethje should have gotten it before Conor. I mean it couldn’t have gotten worked out any better than this. You get Gaethje vs Tony, it’s two of the top guys in the world and the winner will face Khabib.” White added.
What happens to Conor McGregor?
Conor McGregor was eagerly waiting to fight three times this year. With the winner of Ferguson and Gaethje fighting Khabib, UFC president doesn’t see McGregor fighting until September.
“This impacts everybody,” he said. “There’s three fights that have already been postponed that we’re going to have to figure out.
“I don’t know where this puts anybody, because Conor really wanted that rematch with Khabib. Well…Khabib, Tony or Gaethje won’t fight probably until September.
“Nobody saw this coming, but it happened and we’re rolling with it. We’re going to get it figured out.”