Coronavirus concerns push Dana White to cancel UFC 249 event

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FILE – In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, Dana White, president of the UFC, speaks at a news conference after the UFC 229 mixed martial arts event in Las Vegas. The UFC is determined to fight on amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. The UFC hasn’t canceled any competitions, even those previously scheduled for areas where large gatherings are now banned. White attributes his decision to go against the sports world’s collective mindset partly to a conversation Thursday, March 12, 2020, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — UFC President Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto Thursday that he was “unable to proceed” with the scheduled event at the tribal resort Tachi Palace Casino Resort on April 18. 

The announcement comes shortly after democrat California Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed her concerns in light of the current pandemic crisis the country is facing.

“I’m concerned by reports that Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to hold a pay-per-view event in California, in defiance of the state’s shelter-in-place order,” Feinstein said in her statement. “This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential.”

Feinstein added and urged the UFC to consider canceling the event, stating that although it was planned take place on tribal land, and was not subject to state law, the medical resources that it would need, the risk of participants carrying the virus back to their communities as well as sending the wrong message about the current shelter-in-place orders were “not the right move.”

Earlier in the week Dana White, had also told ESPN that he would host weekly fights for at least two months in a location in the U.S. as well as securing a private island where international athletes could play. 

Tweet by Dana White earlier in the week prior to canceling the event.

The events planned for the now canceled event were headliners:

  • Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje were expected to fight for a lightweight title
  • Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rosenstruik were to fight for the heavyweight title
  • Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade fight had already been called off after strawweight champion Namajunas pulled out of the event after loosing two family members to coronavirus.  

UFC has already postponed events on March 21, 28th and April 11 due to coronavirus.

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