LOS ANGELES, Calif — UFC 249 has been canceled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped UFC President Dana White’s plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After defiantly vowing for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights, White announced the decision to cease competition Thursday on ESPN, the UFC’s broadcast partner.
"While the organization was fully prepared to proceed with UFC 249, ESPN has requested the postponement of the event and subsequent bouts until further notice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," the mixed martial arts company said in a statement. "UFC looks forward to resuming the full live events schedule as soon as possible."
Last week, in response to White's continued search for place to host the event, California's State Athletic Commission announced that it has canceled any combat events through May.
"The commission didn't take this decision lightly and understands the potential economic loss to promoters and the industry of combative sports," the state’s governing body said in a statement to ESPN. "We had to weigh the best interest of our fighters and the community around us."
UFC 249 was scheduled for April 18, and White planned to follow it with weekly fight cards from Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on tribal land in California’s Central Valley.
Tribal land isn’t subject to the California's stay-at-home order. Tachi Palace, which is about 40 miles south of Fresno, has a history of hosting fighting events.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a statement urging UFC and White to reconsider the event because it would require people traveling to California.
“This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential,” Feinstein wrote. “At best this event ties up medical resources and sends a message that shelter-in-place orders can be flouted. At worst, participants and support staff could carry the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread.”
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