While the world certainly needs a distraction such as a highly-anticipated grudge match between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and streaking veteran Tony Ferguson, White is catching significant flack for trying to push UFC 249 along amidst widespread recommendation to do the exact opposite. Protocols are being put in place to limit the affect of the coronavirus and hosting a UFC event doesn’t seem like the best thing to do at this exact time.
But White is not like most people, especially commissioners you might find atop other major sports organizations in the United States, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s now looking to separate UFC from the rest of the pack. After all, White has brought UFC and MMA to the forefront of the sports world over the years and certainly isn’t going to stop now.
As far as the backlash he’s receiving for trying to keep UFC 249 on schedule, White doesn’t care what others are thinking.
“Listen,” White told Yahoo Sports, “there’s people I care about what they think of me — my employees, my family, my friends. The rest of the people I don’t give a [expletive] what you think of me.”
“One thing I do know is I’m not wrong,” added White. “I know I’m right. I know it’s the right thing to do.”
Is it really the right thing to do? Depending on who you ask you’re going to get a mixed bag of reactions. There are people who believe nobody should leave their home and self quarantine until the virus is absolutely contained, while others are desperately seeking some sort of normalcy during this time of uncertainty and devastation. Not to mention the fighters, referees, judges, and media members who make a living from UFC hosting an event, whether it’s behind closed doors or not.
So while White knows he’s going to piss a lot of people off for hosting an event when countries are literally shutting down, the UFC president remains focused on providing the world with a familiar escape from reality.
“I’m doing this because it’s what should be done,” White said. “It has nothing to do with the money. It’s about what needs to happen. Like I just told you, I can do [distancing] forever.
“People need some normalcy again,” he continued. “We need somebody to be the first guy to step forward and say, ‘Come on guys, let’s snap back and get going.’ ”
Fortunately for White, many figures around the sport of MMA are backing UFC’S efforts to “let the show go on.” That support includes Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, who seem ready to do just about anything to get their hands on one another next month at UFC 249. The two fighters have continued to train amidst the global COVID-19 outbreak and remain eager to give the fans what they want.
“It’s happening,” White concluded. “If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t, don’t.”