Was it too good to be true, or too ludicrous to succeed?
UFC 249, the controversial Pay Per View event that was scheduled to take place on April 18 at an unregulated Native American casino outside of Fresno, Calif. has been officially cancelled.
Less than 72 hours after announcing a stacked fight card, along with his own personal Enter the Dragon-style fight island, UFC president Dana White confirmed the cancellation of the PPV event in an interview with reporter-turned-personal mouthpiece Brett Okamoto, stating that higher ups at Disney and ESPN pulled the plug.
No word on whether it was Disney CEO Bob Chapek stepping in to axe the event, or ESPN president James Pitaro, but White explained that “today we got a call from the highest level you could go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN.” So it’s pretty likely it was those two.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that it was U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) who put the flex on the UFC-ESPN-Disney triumvirate, after she admonished the event.
“This event would involve dozens of individuals flying to California and driving to a casino for a purpose no one can honestly claim is essential,” Feinstein wrote in a press release. “Going ahead with this event is not the right move.”
A fighter in every sense, White disregarded widespread public criticism for trying to promote a UFC event during the Coronavirus pandemic. His stance was regarded as cavalier, if not dangerous, but when you have $750 million in broadcast and licensing fees on the line, it’s tough not to try and roll the dice, or, in White’s case, take another hit from the dealer (he’s a notorious blackjack ace).
There’s still no word on when UFC fights will resume, but for the time being, there’s a moratorium in place.
And just like that, the event has gone up in smoke.