Dana White better be right with his UFC 249 stand

Dana White better be right with his UFC 249 stand

I’m on the fence with this one and that’s not good for a columnist. Pick a side, choose an issue. That’s what’s we’re supposed to do. But when it comes to UFC 249 being held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is Dana White mad or taking a stand?

Justin Gaethje is all-in. He’ll replace Khabid Nurmagomedov and challenge Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title. The Post confirmed multiple reports the card will be held on April 18 at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort outside of Fresno, Calif. It’s a property that sits on the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation and does not need to be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission.

“It’s a culmination of events in my life,” Gaethje told The Post on Wednesday. “I was wrestling from age 4 to 22 and once I started in MMA I wanted to be the best. I’m very excited for this opportunity to prove that.”

By holding the event on tribal land, the UFC doesn’t have to follow the state’s executive order for people to stay home. Just about everyone else in the sporting world has canceled or postponed all their major events, but the UFC is determined to hold 249 despite concerns about spreading the virus.

While the announcement UFC 249 will be held outside of California’s jurisdiction conjures memories of the early no-holds-barred days, that’s not happening here. The UFC will self-regulate UFC 249, which is something the organization has done in 60 or so other events around the world where there is no established regulatory body.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the same rules imposed by the Nevada Athletic Commission will be used at UFC 249. Fighters and all personnel involved with the bout will be “screened” multiple times while on site. Officials are expected to arrive on Friday, the day before the fight, and return on Sunday. The fighters will arrive on Wednesday. There will be no live audience.

“Everybody who is going to be there will be screened,” said a source with knowledge of the situation. “We have doctors lined up, hospitals lined up, all the things you need to run a show. For the UFC to self-regulate an event is not unusual at all.”

The incentive for the UFC to stage the event is massive. It would have the undivided attention of a sporting (and betting) public starved for live entertainment. ESPN+ will live stream the pay-per-view card.

“I’m fighting Tony Ferguson and I’m sticking my neck out on the line for the company and bringing entertainment when there is no entertainment,” said Gaethje, who is taking the fight on 12-days’ notice after Nurmagomedov could not travel out of Russia. “There were a lot of factors to take this and they were all pointing in the right direction.”

When asked what he would say to those opposed to the UFC holding 249, Gaethje said he is honoring all the adversity people are going through.

“A lot of people are facing adversity right now, whether it’s being alone more than you’ve ever been,” he said. “Maybe it’s not going to work, or losing your job or watching a family get the disease or die from the disease. These are all huge things. If I can bring a little light in these dark times then that’s what I’m here for.”

Gaethje (22-4) said he understands the chance he is taking not only fighting Ferguson (25-3) on short notice, but trying to stay safe from the virus.

“My job is pretty dangerous,” he said. “I’m not scared of a lot of things. I’m sure the UFC will take every precaution. The only time I’m going to be within 6 feet of people other than the ones I’m around every day is when I’m fighting Tony.”

There’s little question the UFC can pull this off. Tachi Palace Casino Resort was the site of World Extreme Cagefighting before it was purchased by Zuffa in 2006. Tribal casinos often host MMA and boxing events outside most state athletic commissions. But there’s a pandemic going on. The UFC had better know what’s doing. Lives depend on it.

Source : George Willis Link

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