Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest MMA production company in the U.S., might be one of the only people left on earth unaware that all sporting events have been canceled due to a little something called a pandemic. Instead of packing up the octagon and allowing UFC fighters and their teams to practice social distancing, White is still trying to put on his brawls. With most people coming together to keep potentially contagious people apart Dana White has instead seized on a wild plan: spending a few million on a private island to keep his fight club open year-round.
In the early days of the pandemic, White continued hosting UFC fights without a crowd present, ignoring the fact that fights are a social distancing nightmare—men and women are as close to naked as possible, swapping bodily fluids every time they touch. Eventually, New York State closed its doors to the sport altogether when the governor banned gatherings of more than ten people, casting the sport out of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, scheduled to host UFC 249, a big upcoming event. Even without an audience, an MMA fight requires ring announcers, a referee, scorekeepers, a camera crew, cornermen, producers, and the fighters themselves.
But White, ever determined, refuses to let something as small as the potential infection and deaths of all his prized competitors get in the way of turning a profit. After the lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped out of the Barclay’s Center event, because of travel restrictions and a scheduling conflict with the start of Ramadan, White quickly replaced him with another fighter and announced the full fight card for the event. Now, White has seized on a new plan to skirt around the CDC guidelines: buying his own private island where no one can tell him to keep his competitors apart.
While White is still “a day or two” away from securing a private island, he claims to have secured a different secret location to host UFC 249 and other potential matches, according to Bleacher Report, “Fighters and personnel will be thoroughly tested by a medical team before entering the facility.” On the same day that White was promoting the full fight card for UFC 249, the Association of Ringside Physicians released a statement recommending the “indefinite suspension of all combat sports.” The Association also noted a concern for medical staff, writing, “combat sports athletes often require medical attention after a bout, and we do not wish to see any additional strain on an already overwhelmed medical system.” But I guess such concerns are trivial when there’s money to be made.