COVID-19: Dana White explains UFC's decision to return next month

UFC is to return next month behind closed doors and president Dana White explained the thinking behind the decision.

UFC president Dana White.   -  Getty Images

Dana White acknowledged it will be some time before he has a gate at a UFC event again but said someone had to "take the first step" after it was announced action would resume next month.

On Friday, UFC confirmed Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will headline UFC 249 behind closed doors in Florida on May 9 in the first of three events in a week.

Ferguson was initially due to face lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in Brooklyn last week before the coronavirus pandemic meant the bout was scuppered.

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UFC has not been able to host any fight nights since despite president White having attempted to keep things going.

White accepts there are challenges to be faced, particularly ensuring the safety of those involved, but says it was important someone took steps to get things up and running.

"At some point, we have to figure out, 'how do we get things back to normal', but do it in a really safe way," White told Yahoo Sports. 

"The only way to find out is to get out there and start doing it. We're going to spend a lot of money. It's not going to be cheap. It's going to be expensive. 

"You're worried about the health and safety of everybody. The health and safety of the fighters, the commission, the referees, my staff that's going to be there.

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"It's not cheap. It's expensive. It's hard, but somebody's got to take the first step and get out there."

White added the outbreak of COVID-19 means he has had to plan long term.

"Obviously, the world is going to be different and I've been thinking far ahead into the future," he said. 

"I don't expect to have a gate for a very long time. I've already thrown that out the window. You have to look at all the different things. 

"People think that I don't take this seriously because I want to come back so fast and all this other stuff.

"It's not that I don't take it seriously. I take it very seriously. I don't plan on having a gate for a very long time. 

"I'm already thinking way ahead of these types of things. All I need to worry about is making sure everybody is safe and I can put on these events. I don't need a crowd."