UFC 261 Will Be Mask-Optional, Says Dana White

UFC President Dana White says fans will not be required to wear masks at UFC 261.

The event is notable for many reasons. The card features three title fights and will mark the return of fans in attendance after a year of events without any. White has announced the safety protocols ahead of what will presumably be one of the biggest events of the year. When asked about mask rules for attendees, White revealed they were optional.

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“There’s still going to be some things that are set in place. We’re still going to have a bubble for the athletes, and things like that. But as far as the fans, you can wear a mask, or you can not wear a mask. It’s up to you. It’s your decision," White told Yahoo! Sports (h/t Bloody Elbow). "The reality is, we had to create a bubble that would be safe, so first of all, the athletes wouldn’t end up with COVID and have all these fights falling out. But the media was being so crazy about the whole COVID thing, you had to make the media feel safe."

“In Jacksonville, everything is opening up again. Even in Vegas, it’s going to be open June 1st, but 100% open in July,” he continued. “There’s still going to be some things that are set in place. We’re still going to have a bubble for the athletes, and things like that. But as far as the fans, you can wear a mask, or you can not wear a mask. It’s up to you. It’s your decision.”

White confirmed all UFC staff in Nevada have received vaccinations; however, vaccinations for fighters and employees in other states cannot be guaranteed.

“What we did is all of our employees have been vaccinated — we made sure that all of our employees that are here with a Nevada residence have vaccinated,” the UFC boss shared. “The problem is state to state. I have employees in California, and the ring card girls, and stuff like that too. They don’t like giving it out to people from other states."

“So whatever states the fighters live in, they need to check with their local people and see about getting vaccinated.”

Despite face masks being optional, the UFC will be providing free masks to all the fans. TSN's Aaron Bronsteter posted the announcement, which includes the UFC partnering with O2 Industries to donate roughly 5,000 respirators to the Red Cross.

UFC 261 sold out in minutes and broke the arena record for the highest-grossing event. UFC is also partnering with Clear, according to ESPN's Ariel Helwani, and will be using their Health Pass application. All ticket holders are required to use the application and answer confidential health questions in order to "identify the multiple layers of COVID-19-related health information to help reduce public health risk."

As of April 19th, Florida's seven-day average for new cases hovers around 6,700 and appears to be rising.

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