UFC President Dana White is ready to go to Texas.
In the wake of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's controversial decision to end the state's mask mandate on Wednesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, White suggested he was trying to put together a UFC event in the state:
"Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities," Abbott said Tuesday. "Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 percent."
President Joe Biden offered a sharp rebuke of Abbot's decision.
"We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms," he said Wednesday. "The last thing—the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters."
And Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke out against states like Texas and Mississippi ending mask mandates.
"The good news is we have vaccines coming online. You see the curve of infections coming down," he said on MSNBC's Morning Joe (h/t Yaron Steinbuch of the New York Post). "But we have reached a bit of plateau where the deflection isn't going straight down the way it was. ... I would advise the people of Texas and Mississippi to just abide by the public health measures we talk about all the time."
The UFC allowed limited fans for its fights in Abu Dhabi in January, including UFC 257, which featured Dustin Poirier's victory over Conor McGregor. The capacity for those fights was 2,000 fans.
White also said in February he was hopeful the UFC could have fans fully back at its events by the summer.
"I've got plans too," he told reporters after UFC 258. "I'm optimistic that this summer, by this summer, we could be doing it either in Florida or here (in Las Vegas)."
White said at the time he wanted full capacity, however.
"I'm not doing a percentage," he said. "I want a sellout."
Much of that will depend on a number of factors, from state restrictions regarding live events and crowds during the coronavirus to the vaccine rollout and any potential COVID-19 spikes. But with Texas attempting to get back to business as usual, White is interested in bringing the UFC to the Lone Star State.