Rovell: Dana White Wanted to Stage UFC 249 During a Pandemic. He Failed.


Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Dana White

Dana White grew the UFC from a $2 million business to a $4 billion behemoth by betting big and running his business by his own set of rules.

He curses. He takes chances. He makes quick decisions. He is emotional. He is self-interested. He is stubborn.

And so, it was of little surprise that as basically every state went on lockdown, as his friend and confidant Donald Trump advised the country to social distance, as public health officials predicted the worst days are still yet to come, Dana White professed to defy every recommendation and host UFC 249, as planned, on April 18.

“I don’t believe anything can’t be done,” White himself admitted to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Thursday. “Everything can be done under every type of circumstances. You just have to figure out. That has always been my mentality.”

White is beloved by UFC fans for ingraining this line of thinking into the core of the sport. There’s always a way, right?

Well, not always, which White found out on Thursday as he says he got pressure from the highest levels of Disney/ESPN, UFC’s broadcast partner, to shut down UFC 249, against his wishes.

The New York Times reported the California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Disney officials and set the cancelation in motion.

Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Dana White speaking at a rally for Donald Trump in February 2020.

For the first time in his UFC life, he was told, “You aren’t the boss.”

The world is in charge now, Dana.

When we hear, we are all in this together. It means all of us.

It’s why one of California’s largest single-site employers (Disney) can’t be part of what Dana wanted to broadcast.

It’s why California Senator Diane Feinstein lambasted White prior to Disney’s decision, saying, the UFC was acting “in defiance of the state’s shelter-in-place order.”

[Updated 2020 Sports Calendar]

Yes, eventually sports will come back, but not now. Not with so much of this battle still to be fought.

This time is strange in that we have, for so long, used sports to help us move on. But forcing sports back, like White was doing, isn’t the solution. It’s counterproductive.

And luckily, for once, it’s not his choice.

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