It appears UFC boss Dana White is prepared to go against the advice of doctors if he plans to host multiple events during the spring and summer months.
On the same day White announced Tony Ferguson would face Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18 in an undisclosed location and told TMZ Sports that he'd secured a private island to host future cards, the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) called for the indefinite suspension of all combat sports:
It is our recommendation that all combat sporting events be postponed until further notice. This includes any and all events, regardless of the number of people involved.
Any combat sport taking place during this global pandemic places the athletes, officials, and anyone else involved in the event under unnecessary risk of infection and transmission of Covid-19. In addition, combat sports athletes often require medical attention after a bout, and we do not wish to see any additional strain on an already overwhelmed medical system.
As of the afternoon of April 7, UFC social media accounts were advertising fights and information about the UFC 249 event.
During Monday's address to TMZ, White appeared adamant future shows featuring international fighters will go on.
"I have a private island that I’ve secured," he explained. "We’re putting in the infrastructure now. So I’m going to start doing the international fights soon."
White's statements left much unanswered during an ever-changing situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic. While he told TMZ he's secured a private plane that will fly athletes in for shows, that doesn't account for any potential future travel bans that may prevent people from arriving on time. It's also unknown if the UFC would shut down if any participant eventually tested positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, Larry Brown Sports offered the following about why White is eager for UFC to resume operations:
If you’re wondering why the UFC has been pushing so hard to host events during the pandemic, look no further than its financial situation to explain things. The UFC was bought by WME/IMG in 2016 for $4 billion. Its parent company is in serious debt, which has put pressure on the UFC to bring in much-needed revenue.
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This quiz does not include holders of interim titles.