Nearly a full month after every major sport in the world shut down, the UFC continues to insist it will hold cage fights. To put it mildly, the lengths to which Dana White is willing to go to put on shows is a bit much. White has secured a private island where he will be holding international fights. Until such time as the island is ready for these fights, UFC 248 and the events immediately following it will be held at a secret location. It seems like the UFC thinks they know something the rest of the world doesn't. Mainly that they can hide from COVID-19.
Not only is White putting on a fight on April 18th that no one was really asking for, he plans to hold fights on a weekly basis and he's doing it in secret for some reason.
Keeping the location secret is not necessary. This is a virus looking for new hosts, not the local police trying to break up an illegal street race. The coronavirus does not keep its ear to the ground to find out where people are hanging out. It goes wherever people take it and spreads in secret. It doesn't matter how many blindfolds White buys, if this thing grabs onto anyone involved in one of these events, there's nothing he can do to stop it.
Nearly three weeks ago, White lashed out at the MMA media calling them the "weakest, wimpiest people on Earth." MMA media's crime? Wondering if men and women should fight in the shadow of a global pandemic as thousands of people are sick and dying. Via The Score:
""Listen, the media can talk as much shit as they want. They don’t feed families. They don’t take care of fucking people. They don’t have people that count on them. They don’t have people to support. We're doing the right thing as far as medical testing goes and everything. That's all we f------ do. That’s nothing new. We were doing that shit way before the coronavirus.""
There have still been no UFC announcements about how testing for COVID-19 would fit into this literal desert island scenario. Fighters have been training in unusual, hopefully isolated circumstances, wondering when their next paycheck will come.
Will these people all be getting hazard pay? Eleven fighters on the UFC 248 undercard earned less than $50,000 each. Seven less than $25,000. One of them earned $10,000. The show had a $2.7 million live gate alone versus a total $2 million payroll. The card also presumably made a few hundred bucks on PPV. Safe to say not everyone comfortably fed their families after that event.
Then there's the bare minimum amount of medical care that is going to be given to fighters before and after fights. These events are non-essential and anyone non-essential is supposed to stay home right now. Not just in Las Vegas. Not just in America.
This also misses the larger point about sports during the time of coronavirus. People want baseball and basketball and football to return because it will restore normalcy. A prize fight is something that happens a few times a year and catches the attention of the general public. Absolutely zero people are wondering when boxing will return. There will be an important fight sometime in 2021. Not having a big fight on the horizon is America's version of business as usual.
The entire reason golf could come back at some point this year is because it would take very little testing to make an event happen. Players can keep to themselves on the course. There is no contact. If you could dream up an opposite scenario, this is it.
This is a cure no one is asking for and it's being done purely for financial reasons, global health crisis be damned. Fights will take place on pay-per-view in addition to the cost of your ESPN+ subscription. This is such a transparent money grab without any concern for the people who already put their health at risk for this sport. I'm sure there are plenty of other sports owners who would love to do this, but the UFC - with its direct line to the Oval Office - is the only sports league that can do it without most people even batting an eye. Like the actual crisis, people will only care once the damage is done.