DANA WHITE has suffered a fresh blow after Rose Namajunas reportedly pulled out of her UFC 249 fight with Jessica Andrade.
The two grapplers were due to face-off for the second time at the upcoming event, which the UFC president insists is still going ahead.
However, Globo Esporte says it is now without its co-main event after the American “Thug” withdrew from the pay-per-view.
UFC 249 is still looking for an official location, despite White confirming he has booked an arena, with reports initially claiming it could take place on a private island.
Namajunas’ withdrawal follows on from Khabib Nurmagomedov being forced to pull out from his showdown against Tony Ferguson after returning home to Russia amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
UFC are going to unprecedented lengths to make sure they stage their next pay-per-view event during the coronavirus pandemic.
It was initially set for April 18 in Brooklyn between lightweight champion Nurmagomedov and Ferguson – but that has been completely scrapped.
White then confirmed he had found a venue to host the restructured event that would now be main evented by Ferguson taking on Justin Gaethje in front of no fans.
It now seems likely the heavyweight clash between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will be moved into the co-main event slot with UFC trying to find a replacement to battle Andrade.
As New York’s athletic commission banned combat sport, and with Nurmagomedov unable to leave Russia, the show WILL go on, but with Justin Gaethje taking on Ferguson for the interim lightweight belt – reportedly set to take place on tribal land in California.
According to the New York Times, Dana White will host the event at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in order to swerve coronavirus distancing guidelines.
The UFC are said to be bringing treadmills to help fighters exercise, while there will also be an outdoor running track built.
Portable saunas are also being discussed for those wishing to use it in a bid to shave off their last remaining weight-cutting pounds.
The facility chosen will be entirely taken over by the UFC with anyone inside the venue – including the property’s employees – be given “advanced medical screening”.
A restaurant will be open with cooks and kitchen staff needed to facilitate that but housekeeping staff will not be given access to any rooms meaning they can not touch door knobs.
The UFC are always regulated by a state athletic commission but the California State Athletic Commission has already confirmed they will not be part of the event next weekend.
But another athletic commission could instead be hired to oversee the show or the UFC could self-regulate, which they have done in the past, meaning they select the referees and judges.
It is understood the UFC will continue to follow the same social distancing guidelines all Americans have to follow, meaning no more than a group of 10 people will be together at the same time.
US guidelines also urge everyone to wear a mask if going out in public, but it is not clear whether the UFC will follow these measures at their event.