Coronavirus: White trying to build 'baddest card' for UFC 249, denies job losses

By Sports Desk March 25, 2020

Dana White said he is trying to build the "baddest card" in the history of sport for UFC 249, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

White has already revealed the venue for the lightweight title showdown between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson is "99.9 per cent" confirmed, though UFC 249 will be a closed event without fans due to coronavirus.

UFC 249 had originally been set for April 18 in Brooklyn, however the COVID-19 crisis has forced president White to consider other options, with additional fights possible.

"We're building a card where people can still manoeuvre and still get in," White told ESPN.

"We're trying to build the baddest card that's ever been done in the history of the sport … some of the things are going to work out, and some of the things might not work out.

"We're trying to figure out if they don't, what do we do? … Actually, Francis [Ngannou] is one of the guys we're looking at, too. Yes, yes, yes [against Jairzinho Rozenstruik]."

More than 21,100 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, while there have been over 468,600 confirmed cases.

In the United States, casualties are nearing 1,000 as cases rise to over 65,000.

The health emergency has brought sport to a standstill, while it has led to job losses across the globe.

White, however, denied a report claiming the UFC would begin laying off a number of employees due to coronavirus.

"Not true", White told TMZ Sports. "Nobody's getting laid off; it's not gonna happen!"

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  • UFC dream fights vol.6: Henry Cejudo v Alexander Volkanovski UFC dream fights vol.6: Henry Cejudo v Alexander Volkanovski

    When discussing the best fighters in UFC right now it would be remiss not to mention Henry Cejudo's name, and beating Alexander Volkanovski to win a title in a third division would boost his claims.

    A stellar 2019 has made Cejudo unavoidable in the often crazy world of MMA and the American, an Olympic champion in 2008, still has huge ambitions.

    Cejudo beat the legendary Demetrious Johnson to become flyweight champion in 2018, before claiming the bantamweight belt last June.

    Volkanovski has steadily enhanced his reputation in UFC and, since becoming featherweight champion, has been challenged to a future showdown by Cejudo for a bout that would certainly create plenty of intrigue.

    In the sixth edition of our UFC dream fights we would love to see series, we have perused the careers of Cejudo and Volkanovski. 


    Cejudo has earned a 'king of cringe' moniker for his antics outside the Octagon, which included turning up to his UFC 238 news conference with a robe and crown.

    But while there may be an awkwardness to Cejudo, he is a phenomenal athlete and fighter, and he absolutely thrives on challenges.

    Stepping up to try to win a third belt may be seen as questionable by some, but Volkanovski could be a fun dance partner for Cejudo.


    Cejudo sealed an 'upset of the year' win when he dethroned pound-for-pound great Johnson at UFC 247 to become just the second flyweight champion in UFC history, avenging a defeat to the same man two years earlier. Just five months later, Cejudo defeated TJ Dillashaw in 32 seconds and then won the vacant bantamweight belt with a come-from-behind TKO win over Marlon Moraes. 

    Volkanovski defeated elite names in the form of Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo, one of the all-time greats, to earn a featherweight title showdown with Max Holloway at UFC 245 in December. The Australian scored a unanimous decision victory to end Holloway's 14-win streak at that weight.


    Cejudo: 15-2-0

    Volkanovski: 21-1-0



    Age: 33
    Height: 5'4" (162cm)
    Weight: 125lbs (56kg)
    Reach: 64"
    Leg Reach: 37"


    Age: 31
    Height: 5'6" (167cm)
    Weight:  145lbs (65kg)
    Reach: 71"
    Leg Reach: 36"


    "Here we go! My next opponent after Jose Baldo, I wanna go after that overgrown midget, Alexandra Volkanovski. So if you're hearing this, You're next!" Cejudo was in fight mode when calling out Volkanovski when promoting his scheduled upcoming bout with Aldo.

    "Henry, he's going to do his thing and talk and get his name and try to stay relevant and all that and good on him. But if that happens, and he fights, and we do face each other in the Octagon, he'll regret calling me out pretty quick," Volkanovski is ready to wage war with Cejudo.



    - Cejudo has connected with 530 of his 1185 attempted significant strikes, a success rate of 45 per cent.

    - On average, he lands 3.82 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 2.73.

    - In terms of defense, Cejudo has guarded against 66 per cent of significant strikes and impressive 91 per cent of takedown attempts.

    - Cejudo has successfully completed 19 of 57 takedown attempts.


    - Volkanovski has a successful significant strikes rate of 57 per cent.

    - Of the 1196 such strikes he has attempted, 684 have connected with his opponents.

    - He has completed 16 of 46 takedowns (a success rate of 35 per cent).

    - Volkanovski has defended 73 per cent of takedown attempts, and seen off 60 per cent of significant strikes against him.

  • Coronavirus: I ask Dana White for location everyday – Khabib still ready to fight Ferguson Coronavirus: I ask Dana White for location everyday – Khabib still ready to fight Ferguson

    Khabib Nurmagomedov has not given up hope of facing Tony Ferguson in their blockbuster lightweight title bout, insisting he will "100 per cent" fight if he can travel from Russia.

    Khabib appeared to announce this month's UFC 249 blockbuster had been postponed for the fifth time due to the coronavirus pandemic via social media on Wednesday, with travel restrictions preventing the Russian superstar from entering the United States and Dubai.

    Unbeaten UFC lightweight champion Khabib was due to face American Ferguson on April 18, but the COVID-19 outbreak meant the event could not take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with president Dana White looking for an alternate location.

    However, Khabib (28-0) is eyeing an August date if the upcoming clash is officially called off.

    "June, July, two months, then August I can fight," Khabib told ESPN. "I hear the UFC wants to make a show in San Francisco [in August].

    "If not, let's fight in Abu Dhabi middle of September. Or fight now, before Ramadan. April 18, we're supposed to fight, but where? This is the question."

    Khabib – who dismissed talk of a rematch against Conor McGregor – added: "Every day I train… morning and night. Right now, I'm one of the biggest starts in UFC. I'm undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion. This isn't a regular fight. How can it be 16 days before a fight and I don't know location? This isn't professional.

    "If I can come out from Russia, I'm going to fight 100 per cent. Just give me location. Everyday I send Dana White a message for location. Too much crazy stuff and questions, and no answer.

    "I understand people are upset because this is a dream fight for fans. This is my dream fight. I lose my money, I lose so much money and things. Nobody lose like I lose."

  • Coronavirus: McGregor accuses Khabib of 'chickening out' of Ferguson fight Coronavirus: McGregor accuses Khabib of 'chickening out' of Ferguson fight

    Conor McGregor has taken a swipe at old foe Khabib Nurmagomedov, accusing him of "chickening out" of his lightweight title showdown with Tony Ferguson.

    For the fifth time, a mouth-watering bout between Khabib and Ferguson was cancelled with the former stating he was unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ferguson responded with a foul-mouthed tirade against both Khabib and McGregor, who said the two were always involved in a game of chicken ahead of the proposed UFC 249 bout in Brooklyn.

    McGregor feels Ferguson won the game of wits against Khabib and insists he is himself in fighting shape.

    "I am in shape to fight right now!" McGregor posted on Twitter. 

    "At the beginning of all this, I said to myself – I'm happy I don't have an official fight booked. 

    "If I did, I would have consumed all the incorrect data to support me taking part in the bout, and I would have followed through, competed. And won.

    "The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where [sic] engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell. 

    "With Khabib chickening out first. Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony's favour. Khab scurried out of the U.S. to home, and amid the crisis. Very high risk.

    "Congrats Tony."

    Khabib made McGregor submit in the main event of UFC 229 in October 2018, with the two camps involved in an ugly post-fight brawl.

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