UFC to Host Event in Las Vegas on May 23
13 May, 2020
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White has announced that the mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter will stage an event in its hometown of Las Vegas on May 23.
White confirmed the event in a wide-ranging interview with Sports Illustrated, but did not name the host venue. The American has said previously that the UFC would look to stage fights at its Apex facility.
The fight night will be the UFC’s fourth event in two weeks, which White said will put the organization back on its “regular schedule again” after calling off a series of cards due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UFC is set to be one of the first sports to return to action with UFC 249 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville on May 9. The promoter will then stage another two events in the Florida city on 13th and 16th May before returning to Vegas.
“I love the fact that these guys in Jacksonville have been so receptive and helpful,” White told Sports Illustrated. “Instead of fighting us, they worked with us and figured out how we could pull it off safely. Somebody has to be first, right? Eventually. You just can't hide forever. Who gets to determine how long we go without sports? It's a really weird situation, in a weird time.”
White has been criticized for his attempts to continue with events during the global health crisis, but the 50-year-old denied that the UFC has been “reckless” in its approach.
He added: “While everybody was f------ lying out by the pool, hanging out and doing whatever the f--- they're doing in quarantine, we were in here f------ grinding, man. Fighting crazy wars every day to put on this first event. We pulled it off.
“We were going to be able to hold this thing earlier, and they asked us to stand down. … Now we're going Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday.”
The UFC’s upcoming fights will take place behind closed doors, with UFC 249 to be broadcast by US sports network ESPN. White said the promoter will need “to go overboard on safety” for the events, adding that it has to be “as safe as possible for our fighters”.
White also confirmed that he still plans to stage international fights on a private island, stating that UFC events will move to the currently unnamed location after the card in Vegas.
“The infrastructure is being put in now,” he revealed. “This place is literally going to be a UFC Fight Island—just like our training facility in Las Vegas, with the UFC Apex next door that can host concerts, comedy, stuff like that. That's what we're doing on the island. We're designing and building it for people to come in and train, with rooms and things like that. The whole island will be laid out just for fighting.
“Everybody has this image in their mind of Fight Island, like something out of a video game. It will be a lot more modern than that. … We’re going to use it a lot until the world gets normal again. We're going to need it for our international fights—a place where people can fly in and out easily, without needing a bunch of visas and red tape.”