He stubbornly clung onto his UFC 249 dream and Dana White is accused of putting greed before fighters’ safety… common sense has prevailed for now but that won’t stop him hosting fights on private island
- Dana White has been slammed for his pursuit of UFC 249 after its cancellation
- The UFC chief had belligerently clung onto the event despite coronavirus risks
- White had secured a private island in order to bypass US lockdown rules
- However, ESPN executives stepped in and told White to cancel the event
- Fans have lambasted the UFC chief for his attempts to run the scheduled event
Dana White has been slammed after the UFC chief finally canned UFC 249 after several desperate attempts to salvage this month’s showcase event.
UFC 249 was scheduled to take place on April 18 on ESPN pay-per-view, with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov pencilled in to face Tony Ferguson at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
However, the New York venue pulled out of hosting duties amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the UFC frantically searching for a venue willing to host the event.
UFC chief Dana White has been slammed for his attempts to salvage UFC 249 this month
White was forced to cancel the staging of UFC 249 next weekend by ESPN and Disney chiefs
Most fans and pundits had expected White to pull the plug on UFC 249 at this point. The UFC chief had already postponed all UFC events apart from 249 and it seemed only a matter of time before the pay-per-view event was canned.
But White’s stubborn, selfish view of the pandemic soon became abundantly clear. His mocking of ‘weak’ reporters who raised justified queries as to the safety of fighters made for unusual watching, while his boasting of conversations with President Trump were equally bizarre.
White bulldozed on with his plans. The Middle East appeared the most viable option to host the event, with Khabib having fought there last year against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi.
Despite the whole sporting calendar being cancelled, White had pursued options for UFC 249
The event looked likely to be cancelled with Khabib Nurmagomedov unable to enter the US
However, White secured lightweight contender Justin Gaethje as a last-minute replacement
The Russian was assured that the fight was ’99 per cent’ certain to happen in the Middle East by White, and as such, the undefeated star packed his bags and left the United States, heading for Dubai.
White was catastrophically wrong. Khabib was denied entry into Dubai and was forced to return to his homeland. Calamity followed as the 31-year-old was not allowed to return to the United States, leaving the main event in limbo.
Not to worry, though. White managed to rope in lightweight contender Justin Gaethje to step in for the champion in what would have been an interim title fight, despite the fact Ferguson vs Gaethje was a fight very few fans wanted to see, while the American had not undertaken any training whatsoever.
White then secured the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Central California as the fight location
Hosting on tribal land meant White could evade the lockdown rules of the US government
Meanwhile, ‘Fight Island’ – a private island based at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on tribal land in California’s Central Valley – become the frontrunner to host the event. Its location on tribal land meant that the UFC did not have to adhere to the lockdown rules imposed by the US government. It looked like White had gotten away with it.
However, on Thursday, executives from ESPN and Disney, who broadcast UFC events, told White to back down from his pursuit of the event, meaning that all UFC events have been postponed indefinitely.
And fans have taken to Twitter to lambast White for leaving it to just over a week before the April 18 date to finally call it a day.
However, Disney and ESPN executives swiftly stepped in and told White to cancel the event
UFC fans took to Twitter to slam the UFC chief for his relentless pursuit of running UFC 249
@sylvanlaker84 wrote: ‘@danawhite Glad to see ESPN and Disney stepped in. When does safety of your fighters and their support staff come before your greed? Love your fights but now is not the time!’
@dj_mcshuffles said: ‘@danawhite hahaha!!! Finally shut down. Listen to the experts and quit putting ppl at risk. Pull your head out and stop being an ass****. Thx!!!’.
@AdhdCapricorn wrote: ‘Thank you ESPN for not pushing this fight card to continue during a PANDEMIC! Dana White is nuts! #UFC249’.
In an transparent attempt to save face, White is bullishly adamant that future UFC events will be held at the obscure island location.
Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, he said: ‘[It’s] really happening … the infrastructure is being built right now on the island.
‘When this thing is ready, it’s going to be bad ass. It’s going to be incredible. And we’re just gonna start running fights as soon as that thing is finished.’