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Dana White reveals UFC planning for second COVID-19 shutdown: ‘I’m always thinking about what’s next’

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UFC 235: Woodley v Usman Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Despite ongoing efforts to host events while the rest of the sports world struggles to return to form, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will not be immune to another potential COVID-19 shutdown. Luckily for fight fans, UFC president Dana White is already planning on that dreaded scenario.

While UFC returned to action back on May 9 to host its first event after a two-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the promotion may encounter even more obstacles moving forward. That’s because COVID-19 cases are already climbing back up as states begin to come back. With more and more areas re-opening businesses and social hot spots there’s no telling how bad the outbreak can get (yet again) heading into the thick of summer.

Knowing this, White and company are already putting their heads together to come up with a plan to combat the possibility of another widespread lockdown. Remember, White fought everyday to bring UFC back into the spotlight the first time around. A second national shutdown would likely require even more effort from the steadfast fight promoter.

“I told you guys going into this thing I’m always thinking about what’s next,” said White during UFC on ESPN 11’s pre-fight media scrum (replay HERE).. “And one of the frustrating parts about this whole thing is, I keep telling this story, I was telling it again this morning: Four months ago, I could have told you everything about this business, where’s it’s going, where it’s going to happen. I don’t know now. So all I do is sit around and strategize and try to plan. And I’m planning for a second shutdown, that it will happen again.”

While other major sports organizations such as NBA, MLB, and NHL push to return to action, UFC continues to chug along. This weekend’s UFC on ESPN 11 event from Las Vegas will be the seventh fight card the promotion has staged in just the past six weeks.

The promotion finally seems to be back on schedule as things heat up for the summer with a planned “Fight Island” adventure, but White doesn’t know what’s going to happen over the next couple of months. All the UFC president can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best.

“I’m always thinking about the worst, what’s the worst thing that can – when you hear (fighters) talking about when they train, they put themselves in the worst positions they can possibly be in, that’s how I look at this business, too. What’s the worst position we can possibly be in? And my number one goal is always I don’t want to lay off any of my employees, and I don’t want fighters sitting inactive and not being able to compete.

“When you’re a professional athlete, you have a very small window of opportunity, a very limited amount of time. You know, we get into all the money sh-t and stuff that’s going on right now. Everybody acts like this is a career. This isn’t a career. This is not a career. This is an opportunity. Anything can happen at any given moment. Your knee could pull out. Your back. Your this, your that. COVID-19, who the hell knows what is coming down the pipeline?”

There’s not much White can do at this point except run the business like he’s been doing for the past few months and navigate choppy waters should they arise. The UFC president has been thrust into an additional conversation about fighter pay and unhappy superstars, but that doesn’t seem to be at the top of his list for right now.