2020 was already a challenging year for the UFC due to the Coronavirus pandemic that nuked a month and a half worth of events and forced the promotion to develop bubbles of various efficacy in Florida, Las Vegas, and Abu Dhabi. Once the promotion did the initial groundwork and set up a protocol that largely worked, the conveyor belt of MMA events rolled along about as well as one could hope for the rest of the year.
But with COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise and new more contagious strains popping up, the promotion may once again be put into a position where events in the United States become extremely difficult to hold. The incoming Biden administration has already passed multiple executive orders aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 that will make flying people in and out of the country a serious pain in the ass for the UFC.
UFC president Dana White laid out his thoughts on the situation (and the promotion’s ideal return date to Fight Island) at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference.
“I mean, if I had to map it out in my head we’d come back here in June or July,” White said. “Probably it’d be about that time. Who knows. While we were here there was a new inauguration [in the US] and we’ll see what happens. Travelling in America and all this stuff is going to be another massive challenge for us this year.”
“Yeah, it sounds like things are tightening up over there [in the United States],” he said. “Talking about 14 day quarantine like Canada and stuff like that. If that happens, that’s going to be a problem.”
For those unaware of Canada’s system, people entering the country must quarantine for 14 days regardless of if they have COVID-19 symptoms or not. Due to the number of people not properly quarantining, the federal government is currently considering a system similar to Australia and New Zealand where folks entering the country are housed in hotels at their own expense.
We’ve all heard the ongoing story of Dan Hooker spending six weeks in multiple lockdown limbos as he heads from New Zealand to Abu Dhabi and back. A mandatory 14 day quarantine for travelers would create similar headaches for all fighters and UFC staff entering the country. Logistically speaking, it might just be easier for the UFC to move their whole operation to Fight Island.
“I’m trying to do everything we can do,” White said regarding the various complications. “This situation is never going to be perfect, but Abu Dhabi is as close to perfect as you can get. I might have to move here this year. It’s as close to perfect as you can get. The way that these guys do everything. Everything in this country is done to the best of everybody’s ability. It’s incredible.”