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Dublin: 14°C Friday 18 September 2020

Dana White belatedly postpones UFC 249

Originally slated for New York, white was pushing for the18 April event to go ahead in California.

Image: Zuma Press/PA Images

UFC BOSS DANA White has been forced into a U-turn on his bid to continue staging MMA bouts through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 50-year-old had been pressing ahead with plans to run UFC 249 on 18 April. The event was originally scheduled for New York, then moved to California.

And although that state’s Athletic Commission has cancelled all combat sport events until after 31 May,  with reports this week saying it would be held at Tachi Palace Resort Casino, getting around state guidelines by staging the bouts on tribal lands.

Instead, the broadcaster with a five-year contract to televise the UFC stepped in.

“We got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney, and the highest level at ESPN,” White told ESPN. 

“The powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event Saturday (week).”

In a statement, the broadcaster with a five-year contract with the UFC said:

“(We have) been in constant contact with the UFC regarding UFC 249. Nobody wants to see sports return more than we do, but we didn’t feel this was the right time for a variety of reasons. ESPN expressed its concerns to the UFC and they understood.”

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Concerns over the UFC 249 have persisted long before last night’s cancellation. Headliner Khabib Nurmagomedov was an early withdrawal from the card and the event was a distant outlier in a sporting calendar wiped clear by efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Before the official cancellation last night, Rose Namajunas announced that she would withdraw from her co-main event bout against Jessica Andrade after two family members died after contracting the coronavirus.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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