Martin Devlin: UFC's Dana White is living in fantasy land

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 2:05PM

Martin Devlin: UFC's Dana White is living in fantasy land

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 2:05PM

As the whole sporting world falls into line and appears to collectively be doing everything humanly possible to contain this hideous coronavirus, one major US sport is still playing silly buggers.

Dana White, head honcho of the UFC, is refusing to acknowledge the global catastrophe facing the planet and insisting his showcase will carry on regardless.

At the time of writing Mr White "remains confident of securing an alternative venue for Khabib vs Ferguson", aka UFC249. The next three events have been postponed or cancelled (at this stage who really knows what the word postponed even means) including this weekend's London show, but as for the much-anticipated #249 White is being as bullish as ever.

I watched the man being interviewed last week on ESPN as the entire US sporting calendar was in complete collapse mode and was stunned at his either ignorance or arrogance maintaining that what was affecting the rest of every other sport would make not a jot of difference to his.

At the time I thought his bravado might have been more act than fact. But alas, no. Even today he's still quite happily out there making public statements determined to now move #249 "outside the country if necessary". Sure. And where will that be exactly? Where is this compliant country prepared to quash all its current self-isolation policies just to let you and your entourage in to set up and stage this event again?

I hate to pour cold water over the man's plans but he's living in fantasyland. The sheer scale and size of the production machine needed for a UFC event is on a scale that makes a late notice internal shift of venue virtually impossible to achieve - let alone up and moving the entire shebang to another country, gaining full immediate immigration clearances and over-riding local laws regarding restrictions around mass gatherings of people etc etc.

I also wonder whether he's even considered the potential long-term damage being done to his sport among the casual or fringe observers watching this guy greedily trying to do what every other US sport has already accepted can't be done.

Dana White has done wonders in bringing his sport, one previously reviled by a huge part of the catchment audience, into the mainstream. But the longer he carries on like he is the greater the danger he'll undo all that previous goodwill. For his sake and his sport's sake someone needs to tell the guy to take a chill pill and tap out. Just like every other sport in the US has had to do.