Story at a glance
- The casino sits on land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut Tribe, part of the federally recognized Santa Rosa Indian Community.
- Holding the fight on tribal land allows the UFC to go around California’s stay-at-home orders.
- UFC President Dana White says he’s also securing a private island to hold fights.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is planning to hold its upcoming UFC 249 event on tribal land in central California in order to circumvent federal and state guidelines advising against large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to The New York Times.
The Times reports the pay-per-view event scheduled for April 18 will be held at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort near Lemmore, Calif., about 40 miles south of Fresno. The location was first reported by Jeff Sherwood, the co-host of the “Behind the Pay Wall” Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) podcast. Subsequent fights are expected to take place at the venue.
Holding the event on tribal land allows the UFC to go around California’s executive order requiring residents to stay home, and the fights on the card will not need to be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, which has canceled all fights through May 31.
UFC President Dana White has yet to announce the venue for the bout, but told ESPN Monday he secured a location to host UFC 249, which had been originally scheduled to be held in Brooklyn, N.Y., before the coronavirus pandemic brought all nonessential business to a standstill. White has maintained he can safely hold fights amid the outbreak, which will likely take place without fans in the audience.
“This place where this fight is going to be on April 18 I have locked up for two months, so I’m going to continue to pump fights out,” White told ESPN.
The casino where the event will reportedly be held closed March 20 due to the pandemic and sits on land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut Tribe, part of the federally recognized Santa Rosa Indian Community, according to The New York Times.
The UFC has had to postpone at least two events in March and one this month due to the COVID-19, but White said he plans to hold more events following UFC 249, including fights he is working to hold on a private island.
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“We’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m going to start doing the international fights, too,” White told TMZ.
“I won’t be able to get international fighters, all of them, into the U.S., so I have a private island. I’m going to start flying them all into the private island and doing international flights from there. So, as of April 18, the UFC is back up and running,” White said.
While the UFC is close to securing the private island, it would be months before fights could actually be held at that location.
UFC announced the full card for the April 18 event, which includes a showdown between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Initially, a fighter named Khabib Nurmagomedov was supposed to face Ferguson, but was unable to leave Russia due to travel restrictions implemented because of the pandemic.
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