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Disney and ESPN ‘stand down’ UFC 249

Martin Cooper April 10, 2020

UFC president Dana White has postponed UFC 249, the mixed martial arts event due to take place on 18 April, after being told to “stand down by the powers that be”.

White told ESPN: “This whole thing has been a battle since day one. Today we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level at ESPN. The powers that be there asked me to stand down.”

The announcement came hours after former UFC women’s straw-weight champion Rose Namajunas withdrew from the event following the coronavirus-related deaths of two family members.

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC


UFC 249 was due to take place in Brooklyn with Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson as the main event. However, lightweight champion Nurmagomedov became stranded at his Russian home after the country enforced travel restrictions.

He was replaced by US fighter Justin Gaethje, with the fight rescheduled as a behind closed doors event at Tachi Palace casino on American Indian tribal land in California, which allowed White to bypass restrictions that apply to the rest of the state.

Fight Island

Earlier this week White told a press conference he was close to “securing a private island” that would also host international fights during the pandemic.

He said: Fight Island is going to happen. All the infrastructure’s being built. I can ship guys over earlier and they can start training on the island. You’re looking at a month. It’s all coming together.”

Other fights scheduled for the UFC 249 card included Greg Hardy versus Yorgan De Castro, and Francis Ngannou versus Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

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Martin Cooper is a senior editor and writer at The Focus. The man behind the style guide comes from a newspaper and magazine background and has worked in the sports, aeronautical and hospitality industries. While head of production at The Argus he appeared on the Jeremy Vine radio show and worked as a freelancer on the sports desk at The Sunday Times. Martin is also an FA Level 1-qualified coach and took his youth team from division five to division one in two seasons before going out at the top.