The Real Reason Why UFC 249 Was Suddenly 'Shut Down'
California governor Gavin Newson directed concerns to ESPN/Disney and asked executives to shut down UFC 249.
UFC president Dana White pulled the plug on UFC 249 on Thursday following a call by ESPN, who were contacted by state officials.
The governor intervened and requested that ESPN stop the UFC's plan to host their April 18 card at Tachi Palace, according to The New York Times.
The message was received as the American sports company called White to cancel the card.
The UFC boss had been hellbent on running the show even with the withdrawal of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who bowed out of the main-event.
White drafted in Justin Gaethje to face Tony Ferguson with the bout falling through days later following an executive decision.
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UFC President Dana White spoke to Brett Okamoto about #UFC249 no longer taking place on April 18.
(via @bokamotoESPN) pic.twitter.com/VRP5jL3k9J
- ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 9, 2020
"This whole thing has been a battle since day one. We've been fighting non-stop, all day and all night since this pandemic started to put on this event on April 18th," White explained.
"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 is that it's been an incredible one. It's been an amazing partnership.
"ESPN has been very good to us and the powers that be their asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday. One thing that I need to point out is that Tachi Palace in California - the Indian reservation has had our back this whole time, has stood their ground and was willing to do this fight.
"I'm going to take care of as many people as I possibly can and do whatever it takes to make all 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."
White continued by insisting that fight island will still happen: "Fight island is real! It's a real thing, the infrastructure is being built right now and that's really going to happen, and it will be on ESPN."
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