UFC 249 will not proceed on April 18 despite UFC president Dana White’s efforts to move forward with the pay-per-view event. All other UFC events have also been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Thursday.
UFC 249 was scheduled to air on ESPN+. ESPN has a five-year contract as the exclusive home of UFC fights on its networks and pay-per-view services.
White said ESPN told him it didn’t want him to do the fight, but he called the partnership strong and said he’ll look forward to putting his next fight on the network.
“I can go next week,” White said. “So whenever my partner gives me the thumbs-up that they’re ready to go, I’m ready to go.”
In a statement, ESPN said it “has been in constant contact with the UFC regarding UFC 249. Nobody wants to see sports return more than we do, but we didn’t feel this was the right time for a variety of reasons. ESPN expressed its concerns to the UFC and they understood.”
On Monday, White told ESPN he had secured a location in the U.S. to host weekly fights for at least the next two months. He told ESPN on Thursday that he was “ready to go” at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, California — near Fresno.