UFC 249, which was set to be held next Saturday, has been called off due to an intervention from ‘the powers that be’ according to UFC President Dana White.
The event, which was set to be headlined by Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje in a lightweight bout that was initially due to include Khabib Nurmagomedov in the place of Gaethje, had already been impacted by COVID-19.
Defending champion Khabib wasn’t able to attend the fight and defend his crown due to travel restrictions in his home country of Russia, where he currently resides.
The event was due to be held on April 18 in Lemoore, CA, but will now have to rescheduled to a later date.
Dana White told media that he was ready to stage the event, and was bizarrely close to securing a private island to host UFC events, but the broadcasters intervened.
The UFC’s broadcast partner, ESPN, and their parent company Disney, asked White to postpone the event.
UFC Broadcast partners wanted event postponed
“This whole thing has been a battle since day one,” White told ESPN.
“Today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level at ESPN.
“The powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday.”
Meanwhile, a statement from the organisation on their website read:
“While the organization was fully prepared to proceed with UFC 249, ESPN has requested the postponement of the event and subsequent bouts until further notice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. UFC looks forward to resuming the full live events schedule as soon as possible.”
So, as much as it seemed the UFC would be immune to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have eventually succumbed. There will be no more events for a while.
Maybe they can do the event virtually on the PlayStation as Formula One have been…