UFC’s announcement to return on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida,haven’t stalled Dana White’s plans to make “Fight Island” a reality.
The UFC president, making the announcements Friday during an Instagram Live chat with ESPN, confirmed infrastructure continues to be built at an undisclosed location that will feature international fighters who are unable to travel to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Fight Island should be up and running in June,” White said. “So I should be able to start running international events in June. From May 9 to May 23, we’ll knock out four shows. And then in June we can start international stuff on the island.
“… We really are putting an Octagon on the beach. There’s going to be training facilities there for people. There are hotels. And the whole island is going to be built, all the infrastructure is going to be built for the UFC to come do fights there.”
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White expects to run four shows in the month of May on U.S. soil with Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena likely playing host considering Florida remains the only state to deem professional sports as essential provided it take place in empty arenas.
The UFC’s preference would be to air cards from its Apex center in Las Vegas, which is next door to the company’s headquarters and state-of-the-art Performance Institute. Although the state of Nevada has banned large gatherings of non-essential employees through April 30, White is expected to meet with governor Steve Sisolak soon.
White talked Friday about training facilities currently being built on his mysterious island, which he said has hotels to house fighters and UFC employees. He also talked about the idea of putting an Octagon on the beach and promoting fights outdoors, similar to the defunct MMA promotion BodogFIGHT which aired cards from Costa Rica beginning in 2007.
Asked if UFC would keep “Fight Island,” a term it has recently applied for a patent for, alive once fans are allowed to fill arenas, White said, “it’s possible.”
“I’m not in a big hurry to get fans back in the arena,” White said. “I know we can do this thing safely with no fans.”
White was also nondescript when asked whether fights over the next few months would include COVID-19 testing for each fighters by saying he would no longer be “feeding” the media with information it doesn’t need to know.
“We are going to follow all of the local guidelines with safety and social distancing,” White said. “Health and safety is something that we think about all the time, every week. Coronavirus or no coronavirus, it’s a big deal for us. We are going to do everything we can and we are going to spend a lot of money to keep people safe.”