UFC president Dana White is preparing for another possible coronavirus shutdown. After helping the Ultimate Fighting Championship become the first professional sport to resume live events during the pandemic, White is bracing for a possible worst-case scenario as a second wave is being threatened and states across the country begin to reopen.
During a media scrum at UFC on ESPN, White said that he is looking at what could happen if a second wave does hit.
“I told you guys going into this thing I’m always thinking about what’s next,” said White, via MMAjunkie.com. “And one of the frustrating parts about this whole thing is, I keep telling this story, I was telling it again this morning: Four months ago, I could have told you everything about this business, where’s it’s going, where it’s going to happen. I don’t know now. So all I do is sit around and strategize and try to plan. And I’m planning for a second shutdown, that it will happen again. I’m always thinking about the worst, what’s the worst thing that can – when you hear [fighters] talking about when they train, they put themselves in the worst positions they can possibly be in, that’s how I look at this business, too. What’s the worst position we can possibly be in? And my number one goal is always I don’t want to lay off any of my employees, and I don’t want fighters sitting inactive and not being able to compete.
“When you’re a professional athlete, you have a very small window of opportunity, a very limited amount of time. You know, we get into all the money s*** and stuff that’s going on right now. Everybody acts like this is a career. This isn’t a career. This is not a career. This is an opportunity. Anything can happen at any given moment. Your knee could pull out. Your back. Your this, your that. COVID-19, who the hell knows what is coming down the pipeline?”
While White is preparing for another possible shutdown, he is also preparing to hold a series of events at “UFC Fight Island” in July. During the month, White plans to hold multiple events beginning with three events in one week.
UFC Fight Island will be at YAS Island in Abu Dhabi. YAS Island was home of UFC 112 in 2010.
Along with the location, White announced four events will be taking place throughout July, including a whopping three events in one week for the official Fight Island launch. Events will take place on July 11, July 15, July 18, and July 25. The first event on the island will be UFC 251 on July 11.
UFC 251 will feature three title fights including Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns for the welterweight title, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2 for the featherweight championship, and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title. The event will also include Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas and Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant.
The UFC has also secured its own airline that will be flying fighters to and from the island as an additional safety measure against COVID-19.
Other events in July will include:
- July 15, 2020 — UFC Fight Night: TBA vs. TBA
- July 18, 2020 — UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 — for the vacant flyweight title
- July 25, 2020 — UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Till