The UFC announced on March 18 that three events would be postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. UFC 249's battle between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was still scheduled at the time, but upcoming fight nights would be moved to a later date. Those times have not been revealed, but UFC president Dana White has teased a potential location.
Speaking with TMZ, White said that Nurmagomedov has been replaced by Justin Gaethje due to travel issues. He also explained that UFC 249 will still happen on April 18 and that the organization has been planning for this scenario since "the world fell apart." White apparently secured a venue for UFC 249, which he will have for the next couple of months. He plans on holding multiple bouts in the venue while getting his private island prepared.
"I'm a day or two from securing a private island," White said. "This private island that I'm securing, we're getting the infrastructure put in now. So I'm going to start doing the international fights too with international fighters. I won't be able to get international fighters — all of them — into the U.S., so I have a private island. I'm going to start flying them into the private island and doing the international fights from there."
According to White, the UFC will be up and running by April 18 so UFC 249 can proceed as planned. Additionally, he also revealed that ESPN will serve as the primary "home" for the upcoming United States-based fights, which was in reference to the ongoing broadcast deal. T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas has been the previous home of UFC events, but Sin City has essentially been shut down and left fans with questions about future venues.
Of course, the bigger questions revolved around the "Fight Island" that will serve as the home of international bouts. Specifically, how would the organization handle travel? White answered that question by explaining that the UFC has all of its own planes that will be used to shuttle fighters in and out of the island. He also clarified that there would be no fans allowed at these events.
In terms of the coronavirus outbreak, White is planning on testing fighters, judges, and everyone involved multiple times. They will be tested prior to heading to the island, as well as during their stay. Additionally, the fighters and judges will be tested following each event.
White didn't release a specific time frame for when "Fight Island" will become the home of UFC's international bouts. He simply said that he hopes to have the deal secured in the coming days. What he did make clear is that commentator Joe Rogan will be on the island in order to call the bouts.