The Ultimate Fighting Championship will defy the global suspension on sport after president Dana White revealed he has secured a “private island” to “pump out fights every week”.
The UFC is already coming under criticism for planning to press on with events despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen three UFC cards cancelled and almost all sport worldwide abandoned in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
But White produced a shock on Monday night by revealing the UFC is set to resume, with the UFC 249 card rearranged following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s withdrawal as instead Tony Ferguson will fight Justin Gaethje next weekend at just 12 days’ notice.
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The lightweight title fight, five years in the making, was due to take place at the Barclays Center in New York, but White revealed that he has secured a new location following the suspension of all sporting events in the city and revealed that he also plans to hold numerous events at the as yet unknown location on a private island that will enable international fighters to compete despite the various border lockdowns around the world.
“I locked this venue up for two months,” White told TMZ Sports. “I have this venue for two months, and I’m setting up shop here. We’re going to be pumping out fights every week.”
The 50-year-old American has shown a negligence towards the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, having insisted that normal life must continue because coronavirus “is like hiding from cancer, we’re all going to die”.
Yet with the US locking down its borders with strong travel restrictions, White has been unable to call on his international fighters to compete in America, meaning that he has been required to come up with an alternative strategy to stage fights and “get the UFC back up and running”.
“I’m also a day or two away from securing a private island … we’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m going to start doing the international fights, too,” he added.
“I won’t be able to get all of the international fighters into the US so I’m going to start flying them off into the island and do international fights there.
“As of April 18, the UFC is back up and running.”
Khabib and Ferguson were initially due to compete in the final of The Ultimate Fighter back in August 2015, only for the current lightweight champion to be ruled out with injury, and they have since had planned fights scrapped in 2016 and 2017, before this latest planned showdown had to be cancelled. Instead, Ferguson will now face No 4-ranked lightweight Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship on 18 April.