As the first mainstream sport to return to action amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, UFC 249 has been labelled successful by UFC president, Dana White, suggesting the path is now clear for professional sports to ‘come back safely’.
UFC 249 was held in a closed-door venue in Florida on Saturday after being postponed from its originally scheduled April date due to the US governments’ restrictions around travel and events due to the spread of COVID-19.
“The whole world is weird; this whole event is weird,” White said, in a post-event press conference.
“We live in a different world than we did two months ago, and the bottom line is the system worked.
“The system is that you want to find people.
“What you don’t want to do is say two days after the fight is that Jacare [Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza] tested positive, you know,” he said, discussing Brazilian middleweight fighter, Jacare, who was scheduled to face Uriah Hall at the event before returning a positive result for COVID-19, along with two of his cornermen.
“It worked; the system worked that we put in place,” White said.
“Without sounding like a jackass, we’re really good at what we do.
“The way this went, we will just get better.
“We will be better by Wednesday, then better by Saturday, then after Saturday we will start to catch our stride and get this thing dialled in and figured out.
“The longer this goes, the better testing technology will get, and the faster it will get.
“We are going to prove by next Saturday that professional sports can come back safely.
“We can share what we learned here with other sports leagues, who are reaching out and asking.
“Sports leagues, and states, are asking us.
“A lot can be learned by what we are doing here, not just for professional sports but sending people back to work, lots of other things in life,” he said.
US President, Donald Trump, threw his support behind the UFC for returning to action with a pre-recorded message shown during the ESPN broadcast.
“I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC,” Trump said.
“They’re going to have a big match.
“We love it.
“We think it’s important.
“Get the sports leagues back.
“You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do, but we need sports.
“We want our sports back,” he said.