By its very nature, mixed martial arts is a crazy sport but even still, I think it’s fair to say that the events of the last week or two will hold a very unique place in our memories.
Through the persistence of UFC president Dana White – the promotion, for better or for worse, has managed to single itself out during this global lockdown – as they continue to make the push for normalcy against the advice of many of those from the outside looking in.
UFC 249, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 18, fell apart just shy of fight-week after White was pressured by the powers-that-be at both ESPN and Disney.It was an event that split the world of MMA down the middle and even now it could be said that the divide is more prominent that ever. I’m going to present a short guide on everything we know about Dana’s plans – simply compiling what information we have without condoning or condemning the promotion’s actions. So with that being said, here’s everything you need to know about UFC 250 and Fight Island.
As things stand, UFC 250 is set to go ahead – with the event being moved from its original location in Sao Paulo, Brazil to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So what is the UFC Apex exactly?
Built directly next to the promotion’s HQ in Vegas, the Apex is a 130,000 sq ft, state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar facility that will allow the UFC to manage the entire production of a UFC event internally.
Simply put, Dana’s goal here to cut out the middle man – meaning the various venues that usually play host to such events – leaving the APEX as the centrepoint of their entire operation for May 9’s proposed event.
So we know that if all goes to plan, UFC 250 is going to be in Vegas.
But what else can we ascertain from Dana’s comments on the event?
Well, love it or hate it, the lineup for UFC 250 is pretty incredible.
As the 250th pay-per-view event in the company’s history, it’s understandable that Dana would look to make this night a special one – but with three title-fights, a number of huge names, and a very noticeable quantity of high-action finishers on the card, it’s pretty clear that White is looking to bring his A-game this time around.
In the wake of UFC 249’s cancellation, Dana confirmed that Joe Rogan had, in fact, committed to calling the night’s action – despite the uncertainty that the commentator voiced on his popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Of course, such claims are always to be taken with a pinch of salt – but nevertheless, it does appear as though Rogan could feasibly be a part of UFC 250 for this reason – depending on how this ongoing pandemic progresses.
In that same interview, Dana also confirmed that the veteran ring-girl Britney Palmer would be part of a pared down ringside crew.
On the subject of COVID-19 testing, Dana was quite vague in his answers while also attacking the media’s coverage of his recent actions stating among other things that:
- “Everybody that’s with me will get the best medical attention possible. The less media and the public know … you don’t need to know. It’s none of your business.”
Nothing can really be confirmed through his actual statements about his plans for testing – but it is important to note that Dana has taken an aggressive stance to the notion of following the advised protocol during this time – likening the coronavirus to more of an obstacle for him to personally overcome than anything else.
So what exactly is Fight Island and where does it fit into all of this?
Well, as things stand, due to the ongoing travel restrictions that are imposed on numerous countries around the world – there are, of course, several roadblocks that are preventing international athletes from competing.
White’s goal here, is to provide a location for fighters outside of the US to stay, train, and ultimately fight in a facility that, like the APEX, allows the UFC to stage events by cutting out the middle man.
It may seem like nothing more than talk at this point, but according to Dana – the infrastructure is currently being built and will likely be finished in about a month.
On top of that, the UFC filed 22 new trademarks last week – 11 for ‘Fight Island’ and 11 for ‘UFC Fight Island’.
Speaking directly to the fighters during his recent chat with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto – White addressed the overwhelming uncertainty that surrounds the future.
“All of my fighters that are under contract with me, I want them to feel safe, 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.”
Again, while that may read as a message of comfort to some – it’s quite apparent that nothing has been said about financial compensation for those who are unwilling or unable to risk fighting during his time of great global uncertainty.
That’s not to say that the UFC aren’t doing so behind the scenes – but it’s an important note to make, based on what White himself said.
And that’s pretty much it. Not much else is known about the location of Fight Island and the many specifics surrounding the production of these planned events.
For Dana, keeping his cards close to his chest is probably a wise move at this point but as UFC 250 draws closer, I would imagine that things will become clearer.