Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

23.06 9 Apr 2020


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The controversial UFC 249 card scheduled for April 18 has been cancelled. 

The event has been beset by controversy, without a concrete venue announcement and numerous fighter withdrawals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rose Navajunas pulled out of her co-main event with Jessica Andrade after two members of her family died as a result of the virus.

While Khabib Nurmagomedov withdrew from his interim lightweight fight with Tony Ferguson due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Most recent reports claimed the card would go ahead without fans present on land owned by the Tachi-Yakot Tribe at the Tachi Palace casino in California.

ESPN's Brett Okamoto revealed the news of the cancellation on Thursday night shortly after California Senator Diane Feinstein voiced her disapproval.

"This whole thing has been a battle from day 1", White told Okamoto.

"We've been fighting all day and all night since this pandemic started to put on this event on April 18.

"Today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney, and the highest level at ESPN.

"ESPN has been very very good to us, and the powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday."

White also vowed that UFC will be the first organisation to return when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

He also thanked the Tachi Palace resort for their support, saying they'd be rewarded with a big fight being staged there.

White says the notion of a 'fight island' is a real one, and will be presented by ESPN down the line.

Earlier on Thursday Senator Feinstein wrote:

“I’m concerned by reports that Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to hold a pay-per-view event in California, in defiance of the state’s shelter-in-place order. This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential.

“I understand this event is scheduled to take place on tribal land and therefore is not subject to state law. However, at best this event ties up medical resources and sends a message that shelter-in-place orders can be flouted. At worst, participants and support staff could carry the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread.

“I call on Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Tachi-Yokut Tribe to reconsider this event and delay it until a later date. We have to be responsible and mindful of all local, state and federal public health guidelines. Going ahead with this event is not the right move.”


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