UFC President Dana White has been adamant that the show must go on despite the coronavirus pandemic, but in a recent interview he acknowledged there are some things that even he is is willing to concede can’t happen for some time to come with regards to putting on events – such as allowing fans to attend them.
“Obviously, the world is going to be different and I’ve been thinking far ahead into the future,” White told Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t expect to have a gate for a very long time. I’ve already thrown that out the window. You have to look at all the different things.
“People think that I don’t take this seriously because I want to come back so fast and all this other stuff.
“It’s not that I don’t take it seriously. I take it very seriously. I don’t plan on having a gate for a very long time. … I’m already thinking way ahead of these types of things. All I need to worry about is making sure everybody is safe and I can put on these events. I don’t need a crowd.”
There’s no doubt that the UFC will take a significant financial hit from not having thousands of fans attending these events, but as long as they can keep putting on shows then their broadcasting deal with ESPN provides a large portion of their revenue.
That being said, White also admits that the added complications that come from the health, safety and logical issues of running the company during the pandemic won’t be cheap to deal with.
“At some point, we have to figure out, ‘How do we get things back to normal,’ but do it in a really safe way. The only way to find out is to get out there and start doing it. We’re going to spend a lot of money. It’s not going to be cheap. It’s going to be expensive.
“You’re worried about the health and safety of everybody: The health and safety of the fighters, the commission, the referees, my staff that’s going to be there. It’s not cheap. It’s expensive. It’s hard, but somebody’s got to take the first step and get out there.
“Everyone who has quarantined has a family. Everyone wants everyone to be safe,” he added. “It’s not like ‘Money means everything; let’s get out there and open it.’ Everybody wants to be safe and do it the right way.”