UFC 249 cancelled: Why Disney and ESPN made the right decision despite Dana White’s assurances ahead of event


Disney and ESPN forced Dana White to cancel UFC 249 despite the event being only a week away

UFC 249 took another twist later on Thursday as Dana White confirmed that the event was cancelled.

This just days after he had changed the main event with Justin Gaethje replacing Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson is set for UFC 249
Khabib Nurmagomedov (L) faces off against Tony Ferguson (R) during a press conference (Digital Trends)

Gaethje was to face the challenger for Khabib’s title and an interim championship was on the line. Tony Ferguson didn’t make any excuses as Khabib was replaced by Gaethje, but this fight won’t go on too.

Ariel Helwani and Brett Okamoto of ESPN broke the news and an interview with White was also done.

All future UFC events have also been cancelled for now, but White was adamant that his private island could be ready in a month’s time to host events.

A month is a long-time to ponder upon considering what is going on thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US is still reeling from the effects and hundreds of people are dying due to the virus. White has always maintained that the health and safety of his workers are important for him, and it would have been unlikely that the president would risk anyone at UFC 249.

However. Disney and ESPN made the right call in the end by cancelling UFC 249.

A ticking time bomb waiting to explode

Even one person can end up infecting hundreds with the coronavirus thanks to community transmission.

That is far too great a risk to be dealing with right now, especially given that cases are still on the rise in the US.

Dana White had to relent and cancelled UFC 249
UFC President Dana White attends the grand opening night for “R.U.N – The First Live Action Thriller” presented By Cirque du Soleil (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil)

While no reports of coronavirus cases have come from the UFC, anything could happen between now and April 18.

Risking the event and then having a full fight card could have been disastrous for the UFC, and more pressure would have fallen on White and the rest of the company.

Not only that, Disney and ESPN would have faced a lot of questions too. Most top sports leagues in the world have suspended operations and some may resume activity from late May or even July.

There is no need to rush UFC fights at the moment simply because of the COVID 19 outbreak. If the virus was contained better or cases were reducing then you could make a case for the fights to be held in a controlled environment.

However, that is not taking place and going the WWE way would not help the UFC either.

WWE still has problems to deal with

White lauded Vince McMahon for continuing the WWE during this period but the chairman made some wise moves.

Vince McMahon is the owner of WWE but Disney might have plans to buy it
Vince McMahon smiles during the XFL Press Conference at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, Credit: Tom Hauck /Allsport

Firstly, most WWE stars are on the road throughout the year so locking them down in one location wasn’t a problem. That could not happen with the UFC since the top stars don’t all stay in the US.

Secondly, even WWE has had to cut out the wrestling from their shows. Roman Reigns hasn’t featured for a while since he is more susceptible to infection.

The UFC might have had to cancel more fights than expected but they need to stay safe rather than risk a major problem.

The press would have slaughtered White and the company too if something happened, and sometimes, it is better not to take the risky road.

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