UFC president Dana White sat down with Kevin Iole for Yahoo Sports and discussed the league's response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Plans are to go forward with UFC 249 on April 18 but details on that, and the medical preparations around the event were not forthcoming.
White, who reports he has not left home since March 15, offered his thoughts on the epidemic generally.
“The question becomes, how long are we going to do this? How long are we going to stay in our houses and hide? .. I’ve had a great run. If the coronavirus is what’s going to get me, I’m ready. Bring it, corona.”
Where will the event be held?
I’m not going to tell you. Everybody’s on a need to know basis right now and nobody needs to know.”
Will all fighters be tested for COVID-19?
“The less the media knows, the better.”
However, UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou appeared recently on Submission Radio and said he had been tested for COVID-19 recently, and believes other fighters are as well.
“There is a chance that I can be fighting [at UFC 249], but they have to settle everything down," said Ngannou. "Like, for now, it seems like they have a location, but they have to double-check and see how they can handle this event safely for people. Because, first of all, it’s not just about [fighters]. They are not just expecting to work with people that are fighting, they’re also trying to make things to care about our health. So, I got tested, they got me tested for the COVID-19, so I guess they tested other fighters, which is kind of like a positive thing, and like, makes you feel a little bit safe to get close or along with those people.”
“I won’t be concerned, because once again, okay, I don’t wanna say that COVID-19 is nothing, I don’t want to say it’s not bad, but technically I think it’s a flu that we have all the time. The only problem with it is that it’s contagious and it can spread very fast. But no, I won’t be concerned about it because even after I’ve had a test, I wasn’t very worried. I was like, okay, whatever it is, it’s gonna be okay. It’s not like bad. Because, I think the thing right now is just the panic. So, this thing has caused more panic then the real pain itself. We are just panicking.”
“Obviously I haven’t fought for a very long time and I really wanna fight, but at the same time, it’s not just because I wanna fight. I mean, like, if I feel like I’m not safe, I won’t be a part of it. But, I’m just part of it because I feel like it’s safe. Because, nothing is worth my health.”
Ngannou is willing to fight Jairzinho Rozenstruik, or someone else, without a proper camp, as both fighters are facing the same training conditions.
“The problem is the same obstacle that I have right now" he said. "My opponent has the same thing. We all have the same thing, we are all in the same condition. It’s not like he’s somewhere training good in the gym, sparring, doing this and I’m stuck here. No, we all are stuck. So, it’s just gonna be an even misplace.”
“I think it’s still the guy, it’s still the same opponent, if he’s – I assume, I don’t know, I assume that he got tested as well. But yes, if he’s well, yeah, I think it’s still the plan.”
Ngannou did not address the central problem with COVID-19, which is not that it will kill a young, healthy person like himself, but that if he catches it he can spread it to other individuals, some much more vulnerable. Those infected can in turn spread it, both to younger people not at all likely to die, and to people who could die, and may require a ventilator. There are a limited number of ventilators in hospitals, and those needing one due to COVID-19 could ultimately deny use of one to a patient suffering from a myriad of other conditions that require a ventilator, leading to death when it would otherwise be avoidable.