Dana White: UFC 249 Will Be 'Closed Event' Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIMarch 24, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: UFC president Dana White interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

UFC 249, featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson as the main event, has been closed to the public, UFC President Dana White confirmed Monday.

"I do (know where it is). But I'm not ready to tell you yet. I know lots of things," White told Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole on Instagram Live (via Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie). "... There's not going to be any fans there. It's going to be a closed event."

White also said that the location is "99.9 percent done," per ESPN's Brett Okamoto.

The event will continue on for now, but no fans will be allowed at the location, which has yet to be named. Plans for the April 18 bouts had been in question since the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelations or postponements of major sports leagues and tournaments around the world, including the NBA, NHL, NCAA tournaments and PGA Tour.

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 170 on March 14 in Brazil, White made the controversial decision to carry on with the event with only essential staff allowed in the building after the district's governor suspended large gatherings because of COVID-19.

The coronavirus has over 330,000 confirmed cases worldwide with more than 14,000 deaths, per CNN.com.

White previously announced he'd spoken with United States President Donald Trump's administration, and it had assured him holding Fight Night 170 and other scheduled events was acceptable.

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"I talked to the President and the Vice President of the United States today about this," White said on ESPN March 12 (h/t the New York Post). "They're taking this very serious. They're saying be cautious, be careful, but live your life and stop panicking. Everybody is panicking and instead of panicking we're actually getting out there and working with doctors and health officials and the government to figure out how we can keep the sport safe and how we can continue to put on events."

At the same time, local and state governments had begun banning large gatherings for at least 30 days to slow the spread of the pandemic. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker had announced no professional sports events would take place, or would only take place without fans in attendance, until after May 1 at the earliest.

UFC 249 also features matchups between Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas, Islam Makhachev and Alexander Hernandez, and Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar.

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