Ultimate Fighting Championship is preparing to resume putting on events with a trio of cards in May. It all starts with UFC 249 slated to take place on May 9 at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and will continue with two other cards at the same venue on May 13 and May 16. All three events will be devoid of a live audience.
For UFC president Dana White, the plan has been to get his fighters back in action as soon as possible. With the MMA promotion having to cancel six scheduled cards due to the coronavirus pandemic, the challenge has been to make up for lost time with fighters unable to compete and, obviously, earn income.
UFC 249 will be a 12-fight card that features several fights from the previous events being rescheduled for the May 9 card, including Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje, Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar, Ronaldo Souza vs. Uriah Hall, Niko Price vs. Vicente Luque and Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro.
White is planning to put on as many of the previously scheduled fights as possible, but it is unknown how many he can plausibly cobble together at this time. This has led to speculation that many fighters are struggling due to not being able to earn a paycheck for competing. There also have been rumors that parent company Endeavor would be having companywide layoffs and pay cuts due to COVID-19, and White has found himself in the unenviable position of having to deal with a pandemic that has brought the sporting world to a screeching halt.
But White made it clear in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole that the UFC won’t be affected by Endeavor's cuts, and he is working diligently on ensuring that his staff and fighters will be compensated during this tough time.
“No layoffs at UFC,” White said. “None of my people will be laid off. Not happening.”
As for the many fighters who saw their fights canceled, White stated that he already has plans for them but refused to offer details because “the less the media knows, the better.”
“People who missed their fights, we’re working out a whole deal for those guys,” he said. “All the people that are with me are with me and I always take care of my people.”
Several fighters who were originally scheduled to appear on those March and April cards have tweeted out that they were compensated despite not being able to compete. There were no further details offered, but it seems that the UFC will make sure that no fighter is struggling financially during these trying times.
“A lot of people are losing their jobs, can’t pay their bills and things like that,” White said. “When you’re with the UFC, we’re moving forward. You’re going to continue to work, you’re going to continue to make money, you’re going to continue to feed your family whether you work at the offices or you fight for the UFC.”