It looks like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is coming home. According to company President, Dana White, the promotion will stage a “Fight Night”-themed event in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 23, 2020.
White spilled the beans during a recent interview with Sports Illustrated while he was explaining just how much work went into resurrecting live combat sports events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While everybody was f------ lying out by the pool, hanging out and doing whatever the f--- they’re doing in quarantine, we were in here f------ grinding, man,” White said. “Fighting crazy wars every day to put on this first event. We pulled it off. We were gonna be able to hold this thing earlier, and they asked us to stand down.… Now we’re going Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday. And I don’t think I’ve told anybody this yet: We’re gonna come back to Vegas and put on a fight May 23.”
Details as to where the event would take place, however, were not revealed. The promotion was looking to stage events at its UFC APEX facility a few weeks back, but Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) officials weren’t ready to lift its temporary ban on combat licenses in the state.
The event will likely be headlined by Tyron Woodley taking on Gilbert Burns. Woodley was lined up to face Leon Edwards in London a few weeks ago, but that was just one of several bouts that were canceled after the promotion closed up shop at the request of ESPN and Disney.
Edwards was lobbying for the Woodley fight to be re-booked, but since “Rocky” is currently in England, travel restrictions scrapped those hopes. Burns, meanwhile, has been on an absolute tear, winning five in a row including scoring big wins over Demian Maia (see it) and Gunnar Nelson. Woodley, meanwhile, hasn’t competed since losing his title to Kamaru Usman more than one year ago.
After May 23, White says the action will be going full speed, hoping to resume his regular schedule, as well as make up for lost time, which means cards will be stacked on a weekly basis.
“Then we’ll be on our regular schedule again and we’ll open up Fight Island, start doing international fights,” he said. “Any fight that would’ve been in, like, Brazil or Canada will be on Fight Island.… Listen, for a lot of these sports organizations, it’s: We need to go overboard on safety now.
“We go overboard on safety every weekend,” he continued. “We always have to figure out how we can make the next event as safe as possible for our fighters, the fans, our employees. … This isn’t anything new for us. We have relationships with labs all over the country, hospitals and doctors. The coronavirus didn’t make us start worrying about f------ safety. We’ve been doing it for 20 years.”
First, the promotion will stage UFC 249 this weekend (Sat., May 9. 2020) in Jacksonville, Fla., which will be the first of three events the promotion has planned for VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, with two “Fight Night” events planned for May 13 and May 16.