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UFC 249: Dana White dodges Tachi Palace report, expects ‘Fight Island’ debut in May

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UFC 232 Jones v Gustafsson 2: Press Conference Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

UFC President Dana White knows that Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, owned by the Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria, has been making headlines this past week as the new location for the UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) event.

But don’t expect him to confirm or deny it, because he’s still trying to keep the “creeps” and their pesky phone calls at bay. Let’s face it, one complaint from an MMA blogger and the Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje main event on April 18 is a goner.

“I know that several news sources are putting out places where they think it is,” White told ESPN’s Get Up! (transcribed by Tom Taylor). “ESPN is where it is. That’s all you need to know. It doesn’t matter where it is. First of all, no fans can come. You can’t come to the fight, you can’t buy a ticket. The only place to watch this in the United States is on ESPN and that’s the only thing that matters.”

UFC 249, originally scheduled for Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, has been looking for a new home ever since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most of the country. Tachi Palace, however, operates on tribal grounds and exists independent of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC).

That doesn’t help international fighters like reigning lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, thanks to worldwide travel restrictions currently in place. Fortunately for all parties involved, White and Co. are renting their own private island with plans to self-regulate the events.

“We’re still working on getting that deal done, which we’ll have done this week,” White said. “If I keep putting on fights only in the United States with United States talent, I’ll run through all my talent very quickly. This is a global sport, we do lots of fights internationally, and we had a lot of fights scheduled internationally. Those will continue. I have an island that we can fly everyone right into, hopefully by like, mid-May.”

For much more on UFC 249 including the latest fight card click here.