Welcome to Dana White’s Private Cage Fighting Island: Yes, the UFC is Bringing the Octagon to an Unidentified International Location.
Somewhere, on an unidentified island, way off the grid, the UFC is setting up a makeshift international headquarters and venue to promote mixed martial arts fights during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have a private island that I’ve secured,” explained UFC president Dana White in an interview with TMZ. “We’re getting the infrastructure put in now.”
Recently announcing plans to move forward with the upcoming UFC 249 ESPN+ Pay Per View on April 18 (with an undercard to air on ESPN and ESPN+), which is headlined by a Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje interim title bout, White offered little in the way of specifics, remaining cryptic on most details, especially fight locations and venues. However; it was the news of the private island he is in the process of securing that stole the headlines.
And how could it not?
White’s outline for the next two months of UFC events, which will move forward with weekly fight cards, is a plot so ridiculous and outrageous that it sounds like the premise of a Hollywood movie, or better yet, a Hong Kong action flick, a Japanese cult classic, and one of the best selling video games of all time.
Yes, it’s a case of life imitating art.
But, this is also a unique case of MMA imitating a premise that is so absurd that anyone who has ever seen Enter the Dragon or Battle Royale, or played Mortal Kombat can’t help but wonder if the UFC brass came up with the idea on movie night or in the gaming parlor. At the very least, it sounds like MMA’s own version of Fyre Festival, where anything and everything can, and will go wrong. The plot is just so ridiculous.
Putting on an event such as this will involve a construction crew, trainers, caterers and host of others. Does an island suddenly make it safe from COVID-19? Is this Fantasy Island?
Having met with President Trump and the commissioners of nearly every major American sports league last week, White, who is close friends with Trump, has always been insistent that the UFC would be the first sport back in business. And while the UFC’s plan may, in fact, be far less overbearing and less complicated than MLB’s consideration to sequester all 30 teams in Arizona, any mention of a private island, without rules, laws, or athletic commissions, instantly conjures images of the famous monkey knife fight scene in The Simpsons.
No word on whether Furious George will compete inside the Octagon, yet.
Revealing very few details, White met with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, ignoring all social distancing and mask-wearing best practices.
He used the opportunity to not only promote the April 18 event, which comes with a $64.99 PPV price tag (along with a $4.99 monthly subscription to ESPN+) at a time when Americans are filing for unemployment, social welfare programs, and financial aid in record numbers, but also to talk about his private island, which will be used for international events and internationally-based fighters (U.S.-based fighters will compete at an undisclosed location within the continental 48 states, likely on the west coast).
“We’re gonna get the fighters somewhere, and we’re gonna bring them to this location,” explained White. “They won’t know where they’re headed to.”
If that’s not the setup to a snuff flick, I’m not sure what is, especially considering that these planes will be full of trained martial artists (and their coaches), skilled in multiple disciplines of combat. At the very least, it’s the setup to some sort of survivalist thriller, akin to The Hunger Games. The only difference is that this is real life.
Given how life, sports, and the world have changed over the last month, White’s plan to host UFC events, live from his own private lair, doesn’t actually sound as ridiculous as it should. Sure, mixed martial arts may be the most dangerous sport in the world, but in times where simply walking on the street too close to a stranger could result in death, what’s the fear in a little trip to Dana White’s island?