Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recently announced that its next three events, UFC Fight Night 170, UFC Fight Night 171 and UFC on ESPN 8, have been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter sent out to all UFC employees by promotion president Dana White announcing the decision (read it), he was confident that UFC 249 — which features the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson — would still go down on April 18, 2020.
During a recent interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter, White elaborated on his confidence, saying that even if he has to find a venue outside of the United States to make the fight happen with no fans in attendance, he will do so.
“So we are postponing the next three events, but Tony Ferguson vs Khabib on April 18 is still on and that will still happen,” he said confidently. “So we are going to follow these guidelines to not have more than 10 people in a room. And we are hoping that this all clears up by April. This fight is going to happen, no crowd, whatever it takes. It’s probably not even going to be in the United States. But this fight is going to happen.”
When pressed to explain why he and the promotion were insisting on keeping the show going up until finally pushing the pause button — despite several other major sports organizations halting business weeks ago — White said it was all about giving fighters and fans what they wanted.
“Listen, this is what we do, we put fights on every weekend,” he said. “The fighters want to fight and the fans want to see it. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the fans and the fighters. These guys all want to continue, so we will. Obviously, we’ve had some blowback from the media that covers us, but everybody is going to have their opinion.
“We are going to continue on, and these three fights that have been postponed, they will still happen and Khabib vs Tony is on for the original date,” he continued. “We are going to keep fighting.”
Of course, Khabib vs Ferguson has been one of the most highly-anticipated title fights in the history of the sport, but has fallen through four times prior for one crazy reason or another. That being said, if the fifth time isn’t the charm, there is nothing that can be done about it when dealing with a worldwide pandemic.