UFC 249 postponed after Dana White said to withdraw

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The battle site had to be moved from its original location in New York, United States, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to ESPN, White said that the “powers in place” of the pay-per-view partner ESPN and parent company Disney have expressed concerns about the continuation of the fight.

“Today, we received a call from the highest level possible at Disney and from the highest level of ESPN … and the authorities in place asked me to withdraw and not to participate in this event next Saturday”, said White.

White attends the press conference after the UFC Fight Night event at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center.

Originally, White had thought that after UFC 249, nights of fighting could go as planned at the secure location – he said on Monday that he was on the verge of acquiring a “private island” to organize events.

But on Thursday, White announced that all other UFC events have been postponed indefinitely, calling the whole process a “battle.”

“While the organization was fully ready to proceed with UFC 249, ESPN requested that the event and subsequent fighting be postponed until further notice in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Thursday. a UFC spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

“The UFC is looking forward to resuming the full schedule of live events as soon as possible. “

The postponement follows the announcement that one of the co-main event fighters – Rose Namajunas – withdrew because two family members died from coronavirus, according to manager Brian Butler.

Namajunas, ranked second in the straw division, faced Jessica Andrade for a rematch.

READ: Magic Johnson says beating coronaviruses should include tackling racial disparities

“Namajunas has withdrawn from UFC 249 due to 2 family deaths related to the coronavirus,” Butler said in a statement. “She hopes to return to the Octagon as soon as possible but for now we are asking people to respect their privacy during this time. “

After extensive research, UFC 249 was transferred to the Tachi Palace Casino Resort near Fresno, California.

Located on tribal land, the California State Athletic Commission’s ban on all combat sporting events until May 31 did not apply.

But on Thursday, Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement that she was “concerned” about the event.

“I am concerned about reports that the Ultimate Fighting Championship is planning to organize an à la carte event in California, in defiance of setting up a shelter,” said Feinstein. “This event would involve dozens of people traveling to California and going to a casino for a purpose that no one can honestly claim to be essential.

“I understand that this event must take place on tribal lands and is therefore not subject to state law. At best, however, this event freezes medical resources and sends a message that orders for on-site shelters can be violated. At worst, participants and support staff could bring the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread. “

White said he appreciates the owners of the room “who supported me through this thing. “

White speaks with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“Tachi Palace in California, the Indian reservation, supported us all this time, held out and was ready to fight this fight. And let me tell you this: when the world goes back to normal, California, that [fight] will be at Tachi Palace. “

The main bout in UFC 249 was supposed to see unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defend his title against top competitor Tony Ferguson.

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But after Nurmagomedov returned to his home in Dagestan, Russia, to remain in quarantine, Justin Gaethje signed on to participate in the main event.

Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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