• UFC 249 is postponed
  • Dana White insists that "Fight Island" is real
  • White assures fighters and employees will be safe financially 

UFC President Dana White is insisting that “Fight Island” is real and will continue to be built despite the official announcement from the organization that UFC 249 is postponed indefinitely due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Thursday, White set the record straight, saying that the unprecedented creation of a fight venue in a private island is “really happening” after confirming that the event scheduled for April 18 will not take place due to things that are “out of his control.”

“That’s why I’m telling my guys not to worry because Fight Island is gonna happen. It’s obviously still being built,” said White, who is optimistic that the location can be utilized within a month from now. “As we closer to that and I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting fighters ready. Plus, I can shift guys over there earlier, and they can start training over there in the island.”

The official statement of the UFC read: “While the organization was fully prepared to proceed with UFC 249, ESPN has requested the postponement of the event and subsequent bouts until further notice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. UFC looks forward to resuming the full live events schedule as soon as possible.”

White rued that the organization has been “fighting non-stop all day and night” for the event but is left with no other option but to follow the orders from the “highest level” of Disney and ESPN, which holds the exclusive rights to broadcast its fights.

“I told you this whole thing has been a battle since Day 1,” White said. “We’ve been fighting non-stop all day and all night since this pandemic started to put on this event on April 18. And today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN. One thing that I’ve said since we started our relationship and partnership with ESPN – and it’s been an incredible one, it’s been an amazing partnership. 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 then assured the fighters, staff, and personnel under the UFC umbrella that fight contracts will remain in force and wages will continue to be paid while the organization deals with the indefinite hiatus.

“One other thing I really want to point out is: All of my fighters that are under contract with me, I want them to feel safe,” White continued. “Take time with your families and enjoy this time. Don’t worry about the financial part of this. You’re going to get the fights on your contract, and I’m going to make things right with the people who were willing to step up and fight next weekend on April 18. I’m going to take care of as many people as I possibly can and do whatever it takes to make all of these guys feel comfortable.

“All of my employees – nobody is getting laid off at the UFC. Everybody is good. We will be the first sport back.”

Dana White
Dana White believes the UFC hasn't even scratched the surface yet. In this picture, White inducts Ronda Rousey (not pictured) into the UFC Hall of Fame at The Pearl concert theater at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 5, 2018. Ethan Miller/Getty Images