Fans hoping for the UFC’s return will have to wait a lot longer because it appears that there aren’t going to be any events in the near future.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN has reported, citing a discussion with UFC President Dana White, that UFC 249 has been canceled and all UFC events have been postponed indefinitely. White was allegedly asked to “stand down” by both Disney and ESPN executives according to both Okamoto and Ariel Helwani of ESPN.
The UFC’s return to action has been a controversial topic for many days now, with White and several fighters taking a strong stance for having things “return to normal” during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan for the UFC was to hold at least two months worth of events from the Tachi Palace Resort Casino in Lemoore, California and then hold a unknown amount of events on a private island that the promotion was securing.
White and the UFC also had a huge financial incentive to run the events, as a report from the Wall Street Journal revealed that the UFC would be paid $750 million for meeting a set quota of events on ESPN in 2020.
There was also pushback from Dianne Feinstein, who is a Senator from California, who issued the following statement urging both the UFC and the Tachi-Yokut Tribe hours before the cancellations were reported:
“I’m concerned by reports that Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to hold a pay-per-view event in California, in defiance of the state’s shelter-in-place order. This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential.
“I understand this event is scheduled to take place on tribal land and therefore is not subject to state law. However, at best this event ties up medical resources and sends a message that shelter-in-place orders can be flouted. At worst, participants and support staff could carry the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread.
“I call on Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Tachi-Yokut Tribe to reconsider this event and delay it until a later date. We have to be responsible and mindful of all local, state and federal public health guidelines. Going ahead with this event is not the right move.”
Also, a Dutch TV station Talpa issued a statement just before the news broke, saying they wouldn’t air the UFC 249 event live due to the current health measures going on around the world (via MMA Fighting):
“In consequence of the coronavirus and the measures of the RIVM [Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment], we have adjusted the programming for SBS6, Net5, Veronica and SBS9. We are temporary [sic] not broadcasting any live sport events on our channels due to the current health measures and the cancellation of live sports events all over the world. We do not think the live matches are a good fit within this custom programming. That is why we also decided not to broadcast them via KIJK.nl.”
UFC Fight Night Brasilia was the last UFC event to take place and that occurred on March 14 and it is going to be the last UFC card anybody sees live for quite some time.