In a world gripped by a pandemic, the UFC’s future could include prize fights on a secluded island.
That’s at least part of the plan according to UFC president Dana White, who told TMZ Sports that he is in the process of securing an island to host some of the promotion’s upcoming fight cards. That, however, will not include UFC 249, which is set for an undisclosed location in the United States. The U.S. venue is expected to be the setting for multiple events in the coming weeks, all behind closed doors.
“So I locked this [UFC 249] venue up for two months. I have this venue for two months and I’m setting up shop here. We’re gonna be pumping out fights here,” White said.
“I’m a day or two away from securing a private island. I have a private island that I’ve secured,” he added. “So I’m gonna start doing the international fights too, with international fighters. Because I won’t be able to get international fighters all into the U.S., so I have a private island I’m gonna start flying them all in to the island and doing international fights from there.”
The Las Vegas-based promotion on Monday announced the full lineup for UFC 249. The card looks quite different than the original version, as 10 fighters expected to compete have been removed. Many of those were athletes from overseas, including reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. “The Eagle” was stranded in Russia due to travel restrictions and was unable to square off with Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 headliner as anticipated.
“Khabib just like all of us was caught in the middle of this thing as the world continued to change day by day and as I was trying to book venues and make this thing happen,” White said. “This is not Khabib’s fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. This is something you could never prepare, plan for or even dream that any of this is possible.”
White admitted that putting together an event has been especially challenging in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, though, he expects that the UFC will be full speed ahead for the foreseeable future .
“We’ve been working this since the world fell apart. Every day when we would work on something, we’d wake up the next day and the world would change. This has definitely been the hardest thing that I’d ever tried to do, ever,” he said.
“As of April 18, the UFC is back up and running.”