World leaders have been instructing citizens to stay home in order to “flatten the curve” in response to the coronavirus pandemic. What they should be telling people is to find a way to get to the upcoming UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) event on April 18.
The safest place on Earth.
“Anybody who shows up to this event, or is a part of it, is going to be safer than anyone sitting at their house,” UFC President Dana White told ESPN. “They’re going to 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 being at home or going to the grocery store. I promise you that.”
Or they could just stay home and not need medical attention in the first place.
UFC 249: “Ferguson vs. Gaethje” will be held stateside at an undisclosed location on the west coast. The same venue is expected to play host to a handful of fight cards before the promotion sets up shop on a private island, giving greater access to international talent.
That said, White was non-committal on coronavirus testing for all competing athletes.
“Listen, we are going to go above and beyond and do everything we can to make sure that everybody is safe during this event,” White said. “We consulted with our doctor, Dr. Davidson, who has consulted with many other doctors. Like I said, the health and safety of not just the athletes, but the athletic commission that will be there, the referees and judges who will be there, my production staff — I’ll be there! — we’re making sure that everybody is taken care of. We are going above and beyond, making sure that everyone is safe.”
White has faced criticism from leading physicians in light of his decision to move forward with UFC 249. In addition, the Association of Ringside Physicians issued a statement on Monday recommending the postponement of all combat sports events until further notice.
Perhaps they just need someone to show them the way.
“First of all, everybody is afraid to be first,” White explained. “Realistically, the only guy right now [besides me] who isn’t afraid is Vince McMahon. Vince McMahon hasn’t skipped a beat. He found solutions — he found ways to get rid of the crowd, and I’m sure he’s doing everything in his power to make sure that his guys are safe. Everybody else is afraid to be first. Right now, we need leadership. We need people who are going to go out and find solutions. Hiding in your house is not an answer. I get it, we have to do it. We have followed everything that the CDC has said, but at what point do you start to get back to normal? You keep people in their houses for too long without entertainment, people are going to start losing their minds. We need to start figuring out solutions … and that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to keep everybody safe.”
McMahon, Chairman of WWE, held his annual WrestleMania 36 event last weekend, also on PPV, but there are a couple of key differences. Most of the matches were filmed nearly two weeks prior to the April 4 card and those bouts that did take place went down at the organization’s training facility in Orlando.
It’s also “sports entertainment.”
“We pulled off this event in Brazil, which went off without a hitch,” White said. “And that was when they said you couldn’t have more than 50 people [in a room together at once]. We worked it out to get less people. Listen, health and safety is a thing that we worry about all the time … and not just during the coronavirus. Obviously, this has made our jobs a little tougher, but we’re going to do everything above and beyond to make sure that everybody associated with this event is safe … just like we always do.”
To see the finalized UFC 249 fight card and line up click here.