Dana White did all he could to salvage one of UFC’s most anticipated cards, but it wasn’t enough: UFC 249 is canceled.
Speaking to ESPN, White said he was ready to promote UFC 249, but “things were taken out of his control.” He told ESPN that ESPN and Disney representatives gave him the order to “stand down.” Up until that point, UFC was still looking for a venue to hold the fight.
But now the pay-per-view is off, and it gets even worse for MMA fans. White also revealed that all UFC events are being postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision to cancel shouldn’t be a particularly surprising one. The announcement comes just hours after Rose Namajunas pulled out of the card following the loss of two relatives to coronavirus.
BREAKING: UFC 249 has been canceled. All UFC events postponed indefinitely, due to COVID-19. Dana White says he was ready to promote the event but things were taken out of his control. Much, much more on this to come.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 9, 2020
UFC 249, which was supposed to happen April 18, has been canceled.
Dana White confirms to @bokamotoESPN that he was asked to “stand down” by top Disney/ESPN executives and so he is doing so.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 9, 2020
UFC was one of very few U.S.-based sports leagues that continued to put on events after the COVID-19 outbreak made landfall in the U.S. They held UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira in Brazil just two days after the suspension of most other American sports leagues.
But the weeks since then, various fights have been altered or pulled.
First they were forced to move the venue out of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when the NY State Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fights. Then this past week the main event was changed when UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of his fight with Tony Ferguson.
UFC 249 has been a star-crossed pay-per-view event for weeks. But now UFC is joining just about every other sport in the country: On the sidelines.