UFC 249 is looking to be the first full-fledged professional sporting event of the COVID-19 lockdown and it’s likely taking place at the Tachi Palace tribal casino in California. The move to Tachi Palace comes as UFC chief Dana White believes the show must go own, even if it skirts the law and widespread calls for social distancing to spread the curb of the deadly virus.
White’s decision to host the event at an Indian casino was first reported by the New York Times and comes just hours after White promised to hold the event on a “private island.” There’s no word on why the private island plan was scrapped, or if it ever actually existed, but White is dead set on holind the event, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.
Because tribal lands and their casinos fall under federal jurisdiction, they are not bound to uphold California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on public gatherings – thought the casino has been closed down since March 20.
White, whose political leaning tend to schew right, revelled in the idea of getting his fight league back and running saying, “So when we do this fight April 18, international and in the United States, we’re going to start cranking. The UFC will be back up and running, internationally and here in the States.”
How the fighters and other UFC employees feel about the event is unclear, though the Association of Ringside Physicians had already issued a statement suggesting that combat sports be postponed until the COVID-19 crisis passses. Reaction in the sports media was generally negative.
In most parts of Indian Country, medical facilities are located in isolated parts of the country where medical facilities are limited. While White’s move to hold his event at their casino could provide a short-term financial boost, it could also bring on a full-blown medical catastrophe. But, as of this writing, UFC 249 is still scheduled for April 18.