UFC president Dana White has revealed that UFC 249 has been CANCELLED after top executives at Disney and ESPN asked him to “stand down.”
The event, which was scheduled to take place on April 18, has finally fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UFC chief was determined to press on with the event despite headline fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rose Namajunas pulling out and it having to take place behind closed doors.
Khabib was no longer able to travel as he was locked down in Russia, while Namajunas pulled out after it was revealed two family members had died because of coronavirus.
Earlier this week, White had said that the card would take place at a secret location – dubbed Fight Island – to stop fans travelling and to try and ensure the safety of fighters and event staff.
But all his plans have now come to a halt.
White told ESPN late on Thursday: “It’s been a battle since day one, we’ve been fighting all day and all night to put on this event.
“Today we got a call from the highest level you could go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN.
“The powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event.”
He later added on an Instagram Q&A: “We have a great relationship… them asking me to stand down, there’s no way I wouldn’t not do that.
“The fights are not cancelled, they are just postponed and pushed back.”
White also told the fighters who agreed to take part in the event should not worry as he was going to “take care” of the people who were willing to “step up”.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to fight Tony in the headline slot in Brooklyn, New York.
But that location was changed with the Big Apple on lockdown because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Khabib then had to withdraw – the FIFTH time that had happened with him and Ferguson – because of travel restrictions and was replaced by Justin Gaethje.
With the Big Apple on lockdown, White moved the event to an unknown location.
Dubbed Fight Island, it was believed to be taking place at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Caifornia, which sits on Native American tribal land.
To have the event run, fans were banned, maids were to be barred from hotel rooms and portable saunas were going to be brought in to help fighters make weight.
All of the employees were going to be given advanced medical screenings.
An advanced truama centre was also to be set up on-site.
But White and the UFC’s bid to keep the event on, despite a mountain of criticism, has finally been stopped in its tracks.