And the stakes could not have been higher.
On Saturday, the UFC is scheduled to become the first sport in the United States to return to action, even though the global coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, with the organization’s president very aware of increased surveillance that will inevitably block his path.
“Listen, we have a family too,” White told CNN Sport from his headquarters in Las Vegas recently. “I have a family; I don’t want to hurt my family. I don’t want to die.
“This is not just some crazy, this is a well thought out plan. We have very, very smart people, doctors and people who have been involved with UFC for a very long time doing this without stopping since it started. We believe that we have this thing in a place that can be as safe as possible. ”
The trio of events on 9, 13 and 16 May will be staged in Jacksonville, Florida, where the UFC – which can often attract crowds of more than 20,000 – has confirmed that all night fights will be closed to the public because of a pandemic and only “important personnel” will be present.
In a press release issued by UFC, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the promotion had presented a “safe and sensible” plan while Patrick Cunningham, executive director of the state Boxing Commission, said “health and safety protocols would be implemented to ensure security.” and the welfare of all the individuals who helped make this event possible. ”
And in a statement to CNN Sport, Brian Hughes, head of administration for the City of Jacksonville, said “the UFC provides a well thought out plan to state regulators and they are aware of our guidance through local executive orders
“Based on our discussion and capacity to have codes and safety enforcement at these events, we believe the event will protect athletes, management and production staff on site.”
Regarding the main components of the test, Hughes went on to note that “everyone in the building will have gone through a testing regime based on UFC plans.”
President of UFC White – who also submitted a 30-page security protocol document to the state authorities ahead of this weekend’s pay-per-view event – said the fighters wanted to fight, the fans were excited, and that there was a “phenomenal” reaction, but he also admitted not to there is a guarantee in life, asking everyone to play their role.
“Fighters can’t show up in Florida and start hanging out and partying and walking on the road,” White admitted. “We will also need help from them.”
White – who didn’t think we would see crowds returning in live sports for a while – also wore another hat today. He is one of the advisers of US President Donald Trump, in terms of returning the American economy to its path.
White told CNN Sport that he had made several “great” conference calls with Trump, adding “everyone was motivated to try to think about this and bring sports back.”
Trying to return during the pandemic comes at a high profile risk but White sees the UFC as a challenge.
“I can stay at home now. I can be in the pool, hanging out, playing with my children at home,” he stressed.
“I didn’t. I’m here trying to solve this problem. I made sure that every employee and my family was taken care of. My men and their families were taken care of. And we spent a lot of money on it. You know, it’s very expensive. It’s not cheap. That’s why. other people don’t want to leave now. It’s expensive. ”
While other sports are still too worried about the potential dangers of hosting any type of competition, the head of the UFC has also been watching closely for the future.
White said infrastructure was being worked on, with tests to be carried out on site, with an official announcement of the island’s location now expected in mid-June.
Hit and hoop
Like many of us, White has to adapt to a new kind of normalcy when it comes to riding quarantine at his home in Las Vegas.
In addition to indulging his passion for music – talking to CNN Sport with their guitar behind him, White cites the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and the Beastie Boys as three of his favorite bands of all time – UFC frontmen have played basketball at home, swam and are around loved ones.
“My daughter has taken me on a very cool bicycle,” the white beam. “I had a great time during this holiday. And a lot of quality time with my children.”