After being set to go down on April 18 at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort, which is located on tribal land in Central California, UFC 249 has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dana White confirmed to ESPN. All other UFC events have also been postponed until further notice.
White said he was forced to cancel the event after receiving a call from Disney and ESPN. The fight was scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+.
"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 on Saturday," White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
Dana White (@danawhite) delivered this message to his fighters in the interview. "Don't worry about the financial part of this. You're going to get the fights on your contract. I'm going to make things right for the people who were willing to fight next weekend."— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 9, 2020
The postponement of UFC 249 comes just days after White announced that he had secured the Tachi Palace Casino Resort to host fights for, at least, the next two months, starting with this Saturday’s event.
Since it’s located on tribal land, the Tachi Palace Casino Resort isn’t required to abide by the California State Athletic Commission’s ban on all combat sporting events until May 31 or the state’s stay at home order.
Despite being forced to call off UFC 249, White promises that the resort will be rewarded for having “our back this whole time” with an event down the road when the pandemic is resolved.
Before it became known that he was planning on holding events at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort, White bragged about nearly securing a deal where he would be able to host fights on a private island. This location offered him the opportunity to hold international fights, which would hypothetically help his fighters avoid any pandemic-related travel bans imposed by the United States.
“I'll tell you this, I'm this close to getting a deal done," White told ESPN. "So this place where this fight is going to be on April 18 I have locked up for two months, so I'm going to continue to pump fights out. I also secured an island. I've got an island. The infrastructure is being built right now. We're going to do all of our international fights on this island.”
The casino, which has been closed since March 20 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is located on the land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut Tribe. It is located about 40 miles south of Fresno, near the city of Lemoore.