LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 18: UFC President Dana White speaks to the media during the UFC 246 event at … [+]
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The Wall Street Journal reports that a big payout could have been behind the UFC’s move to try to stage UFC 249 on tribal lands on April 18.
According to the paper, the UFC’s contract with ESPN requires the promotion to stage 42 events in 2020. The promotion has presented eight events so far this year.
If the UFC delivers 42 fight cards, Brandon Ross, a media analyst at LightShed Partners estimated the UFC could take in around $750 million.
The UFC has not held an event since March 14 when it put on UFC Fight Night 170 in Brasilia, Brazil. Coronavirus concerns forced the promotion to hold that event without a crowd. The last time the UFC visited Brasilia was in 2016 when 8,410 people attended UFC Fight Night 95.
The promotion postponed its next three events in the wake of the global pandemic. However UFC president Dana White was adamant that UFC 249 would take place on its scheduled date of April 18 even though the original venue for that fight card, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, told the promotion in March that the event could not happen in New York.
After some searching, the UFC, according to the New York Times NYT , secured Tachi Palace Casino Resort for the fight card. However, that event was also postponed when Disney DIS and ESPN asked White to “stand down” and postpone the fight card. The promotion also put all future UFC events on hold at that time.
The UFC has not announced when it intends to return to action, but ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani said that “some managers have been told, circle the date May 16 on your calendar and they’re hoping that Nevada will be up and running back then.” May 16 is the date scheduled for UFC Fight Night 175, which is currently booked for Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California.
Helwani also predicted that the UFC could host multiple events per week at the UFC owned Apex facility in Las Vegas to get back on track and deliver the contracted 42 events for 2020.
Helwani seemed to agree with Ross, who told the WSJ, “I’d be surprised if they can’t fulfill their contract.”
*The UFC was asked to respond to the WSJ report, but has not done so as of publication.