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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Dana White close to securing private island to host UFC fights

Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje has replaced Khabib Nurmagomedov as Tony Ferguson’s opponent in the interim lightweight championship bout at UFC 249.

Justin Gaethje will face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249
Justin Gaethje will face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249

Updated at 10.53

UFC PRESIDENT Dana White said he is “a day or two away” from securing a private island for international fights amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been doubts over UFC 249 due to Covid-19, but the event — which was originally set to be held in Brooklyn on 18 April — will go ahead, with Justin Gaethje replacing Khabib Nurmagomedov as Tony Ferguson’s opponent in the interim lightweight championship bout.

Travel restrictions have prevented unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib from entering the United States and Dubai, prompting the Russian superstar to be replaced.

While the location for UFC 249 remains undisclosed, White revealed he is working on a deal for international fighters to compete on a private island.

“I locked this [UFC 249] venue up for two months,” White told TMZ. “I have this venue for two months, I’m setting up shop here. We’re gonna be pumping out fights every week.

“I have also — I’m a day or two away from securing a private island. I have a private island I’ve secured. We’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m gonna start doing the international fights, too, with international fighters.

“I won’t be able to get international fighters, all of them, into the US, so I have a private island. I’m going to start flying them all into the private island and doing international fights from there. So as of 18 April, the UFC is back up and running.”

Despite coronavirus bringing most sport to a standstill, UFC 249 will go ahead behind closed doors but the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) called for the indefinite suspension of all combat sports events on Monday.

“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,” ARP’s statement read.

“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.”

On medical concerns, White said: “There won’t be any fans at this thing. No fans. And everybody is going to be pre-tested, and tested, and tested.

“We’re gonna make sure that 100% healthy athletes, healthy athletic commission people, healthy judges, referees, my production people, that everybody there is gonna be healthy. We’re gonna make sure that everybody is gonna be safe, before, during, and after the fights.”

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