Over this last month, Dana White has proved himself to be one of sport's great spoofers. He had told the world over and over that UFC 249 event is going ahead when we all knew it couldn't. Last night he confirmed it can't. In a country overrun with spoofers, White could fairly claim to be America's leading spoofer.
Last night, the UFC pulled the plug on UFC 249, which was slated for Saturday week. The event had been the subject of great speculation. Despite practically every sporting event in the world being cancelled in April, White has insisted that UFC 249 would go ahead.
“Here’s the reality: We will be up and running before any other sport will. Our sport’s different. We have our own arena next door (the UFC Apex). So we will fulfill every fight for every fighter this year, and we’ll get this thing done.”
Reality, though, has been quite stubborn. The card had originally featured a mouthwatering fight between Khabib and Tony Ferguson, but that had to be nixed because Khabib couldn't leave Russia. Then the location for the event became problematic, with the latest reports claiming that UFC 249 would happen on 'tribal lands' in California.
Yesterday Dutch broadcaster Talpa said they were not going to broadcast the event on moral grounds, and then last evening came the final blows for White: a phonecall from the governor of California and then another from ESPN, the UFC's chief broadcaster, requesting that the UFC cancel the event.
According to the New York Post:
The Post also learned California Gov. Gavin Newsom played a leading role in getting the event canceled. According to sources, Newsom called Disney chairman Bob Iger and requested ESPN force the UFC to cancel the event set for the Tachi Palace Casino Resort outside of Fresno, Calif.
And so they mercifully pulled the plug.
"I told you this whole thing has been a battle since day one. Today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level at ESPN ... and the powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday," White said last night.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 9, 2020
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) April 8, 2020
Startling man. None of us saw this coming except for literally everyone but Dana White https://t.co/3OBosUFf8i
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) April 9, 2020
The whole world knew there was no chance that UFC 249 could be held, but White kept blabbering on and insisting it would go ahead, despite the blatant risks to his employees.
"Nobody's getting laid off at the UFC," he said.
It was spoofing of the highest order. White's job security as UFC president is perhaps not as secure as it once was.