There was loads of questioning and criticism for Dana White, to the purpose the place the UFC president felt like he was a fighter taking “pointless punishment” for barreling forward at a time when different sports activities leagues are on pause.
Being the primary sports activities league to get again to enterprise – or second, when you purchase a latest promo for NASCAR – throughout a worldwide pandemic introduced loads of headlines, good and dangerous. However on the finish of the day, they occurred. And for now, White is declaring victory.
“10.5,” White advised reporters following UFC on ESPN eight in response to a query of how he rated a trio of occasions that wrapped on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. “It was superior. The important thing to this week was not lots of people testing constructive for COVID-19 or no one getting sick. It was a house run, and I couldn’t be happier.”
After all, some individuals did take a look at constructive for COVID-19 – three to be precise. Information of UFC middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and two of his cornerman contracting the virus – after he broke what ought to have been a self-quarantine – despatched a shiver of concern via fighters and personnel on website within the beachside city, coming at a time when it appeared just like the promotion was gliding towards a drama-free kickoff with UFC 249. Whereas the episode introduced into query the effectiveness of the protocols the promotion had painstakingly crafted after getting the green-light from the state to proceed, White’s interpretation was that the system had labored by figuring out and excluding the sick. However as staff broke down the octagon in Jacksonville, even he needed to admit the sport wasn’t over but.
There weren’t any extra positives after Souza and his teammates (that we all know of). The virus’ incubation interval of as much as 14 days will ship the ultimate verdict on whether or not the extra precautions – and blatant departures from these security protocols – labored as supposed.
“No one’s gotten sick, and hopefully that’s the case – there’s no ensures in life – however hopefully that’s the case once we go residence,” mentioned White, who throughout the week posted movies of his mind getting tickled for the diagnostic coronavirus take a look at. “I believe we picked the proper place to do it, too. This city was excellent for it; the governor, and the mayor and the athletic fee and the sector, they have been nice to us. … I’m glad we did it right here first. I’m able to go residence, although.”
White’s first alternative for a Might 30 occasion is within the UFC’s residence metropolis of Las Vegas. However with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak not too long ago extending present restrictions on sporting arenas till the top of the month, that appears fairly optimistic. The second alternative, he mentioned on the press convention, is Arizona, which is within the strategy of reopening its economic system after letting a stay-at-home order expire.
The procedures in place in Jacksonville, which included sanitizing of microphones, distancing of commentary tables, masks for nearly all people, and between-fight spritzes of disinfectant for the octagon, are the brand new regular because the UFC rolls on throughout the pandemic. Different sporting leagues are asking White for recommendation. However he made up his thoughts a very long time in the past that he would take heed to his personal instincts when it got here to the choice to maneuver ahead. Medical doctors and consultants would assist clean the trip, however nobody would carry it to a cease.
“That is what we’re going to do,” he mentioned. “You guys have handled me lengthy sufficient…once we’re doing what we’re doing and also you’re simply taking pointless punishment, you understand I’m going to f*cking snap ultimately, and I do. However we labored arduous to drag this factor off and get right here.
“Nothing means extra to me than the security of all people that was concerned within the occasion, not simply with COVID-19, however a combat that wasn’t stopped quickly sufficient. Each time we end an occasion, I would like everybody to go residence protected, and it’s not any completely different with COVID-19. And we’ll do every part in our energy – we’ll spend the cash, we’ll speak to docs and consultants within the area and work out tips on how to beat it.”
White has snapped at a number of factors, principally at reporters, whether or not they have been throughout the MMA bubble or labored for mainstream information reporters and, in his opinion, made up “lies” and valued clicks over accuracy. He was additionally compelled to defend an unusually restrictive contract his attorneys required media and fighters to signal previous to the occasion. For individuals who’ve handled him lengthy sufficient, they make clear a well-known hostility towards those that don’t act in tandem with the UFC as promoters.
Even when there isn’t a cheerful ending in Jacksonville, White will proceed to have a look at the UFC’s path as a combat with allies and opponents, the latter of which he should defeat by being profitable. Solely these deeply intertwined within the promotion’s enterprise pursuits will be capable to inform him in any other case, and solely to a sure level.
Telling White he couldn’t promote throughout a pandemic ensured he would transfer heaven and earth to show doubters fallacious.
“I consider nothing is inconceivable and every part will be achieved, particularly in 2020,” he mentioned. “You simply should work arduous sufficient, spend some cash, and give you options, and that’s what we did this week.”