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Dana White says UFC close to securing private island for events

Updated April 7, 2020 - 11:09 am

UFC president Dana White said he has plans for a full schedule beyond UFC 249 even if he has to secure the land himself.

He insists he is close to announcing a deal for a private island to host fights during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As of April 18, the UFC is back up and running,” White told TMZ on Monday night.

White has yet to announce a venue for the pay-per-view event April 18 that will feature a main event lightweight interim title bout between Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson, but said it won’t be a one-time return for the organization.

An announcement on the location is expected in the next few days. White has said he has kept it secret largely because he thinks the media will try to dissuade local officials from allowing it to go on once the venue is confirmed.

That location is expected to be in the United States and will become a de facto home for the UFC until life starts to return to normal.

“I locked this venue up for two months, and I’m setting up shop here,” he said. “We’re going to be pumping out fights every week.”

One of the potential stumbling blocks for such a plan will be transporting international fighters into the country despite travel restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

White said he thinks he has found the solution to that, too.

“I’m a day or two away from securing a private island,” he said. “We’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m going to start doing international fights, too, with international fighters. I won’t be able to get all of the international fighters into the U.S., so I’m going to start flying them into the private island and doing international fights from there. We have all our own planes that will fly in with the fighters.”

Domestic events still would take place at the mystery venue in the United States, which is believed to be on the West Coast.

The UFC was one of the last U.S.-based sports leagues to host an event when UFC Fight Night 170 took place in an empty arena March 14 in Brazil.

White vowed to continue a full schedule despite restrictions on gatherings throughout the United States and the world, but eventually relented and postponed three fight cards while he searched for options.

“We’ve been working on this since the world fell apart,” he said. “Every day we’d work on something, and we’d wake up the next day and the world would change again. This has definitely been the hardest thing that I’ve ever tried to do. Ever.”

White insists the UFC won’t compromise on safety.

“Everybody is going to be pretested and tested and tested and tested,” he said. “We’re going to make sure it’s 100 percent healthy athletes, healthy athletic commission people, judges, referees, my production people. Everyone is going to be healthy and safe before, during and after the fights.”

The UFC is expected to self-regulate the events, as it is unlikely any athletic commission would sanction a fight card at this time.

Marc Ratner, a former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission who is now a UFC executive, probably would be in charge of assigning referees and judges under such a scenario.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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