UFC President Dana White made a flurry of announcements Saturday about the status of his organization's next few events highlighted by the news Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson and the rest of the UFC 249 card will be moved from Brooklyn, New York.
No events are being canceled at this time. Instead, White is working on relocations.
ESPN MMA @espnmma
"We’re working to find new locations, but the fights will go on. They will continue.” @danawhite announces that two fight cards, originally scheduled for Columbus and Portland and recently relocated to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, will move once more. (via @SportsCenter) https://t.co/2smPcU8zKB
Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi
Dana White on SportsCenter: — UFC London moving elsewhere; no venue yet — March 28 and April 11 cards no longer in Vegas; no venues yet — Khabib vs. Ferguson won’t be in Brooklyn or Vegas; no venue yet White vowed fights will go on unless the country is in total shutdown.
Speaking to ESPN after the conclusion of Fight Night 170 in Brazil—during which fans were barred because of the coronavirus pandemic—White said Fight Night 171 will no longer take place at the O2 Arena in London as scheduled. The change is due to travel restrictions in the United Kingdom. UFC is looking at new venues and will most likely hold the bouts in the United States.
White is also scrapping plans to hold fights at the Apex in Las Vegas on March 28 and April 11.
"The fights will go on," White said. "They will continue. We're not stopping."
Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi
… The organization is looking at the available options, including in the United States. Additional details will be announced in coming days. O2 ticket holders may seek a full refund at the point of purchase. UFC looks forward to returning to London at the earliest opportunity."
On Saturday afternoon, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended all fight permits until March 25 when the commission holds its next meeting. While the ruling only affects bouts held in Nevada, it's thrown a wrench in UFC's plans as White continues to maintain his events on the schedule.
White said only a "total shutdown of the country" would lead to UFC fights being canceled.
As of Saturday evening, there have been 142,320 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with 5,388 deaths, according to CNN. In the United States, there are 1,696 cases and 41 deaths. The number of infections in America is still expected to continue rising in the coming days.
On March 12, as other sports leagues were suspending activities, White told ESPN he had received assurances from President Donald Trump that UFC should stick to its schedule.
"I talked to the President and the Vice President of the United States today about this," White said on ESPN (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."
White said he expects to find new venue options for UFC 249 by Sunday morning.