Dana White is not known for backing down from a fight, for better or worse. In recent weeks, that has seen the UFC president be vocal in his determination to move forward holding events and being "the first sport back" amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
After being forced to relocate -- and postpone -- UFC 249, the event is now set to take place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, this Saturday. It has been a difficult journey toward holding the card, but White told Brian Campbell on CBS Sports HQ on Tuesday that it has been "incredibly challenging, yet fun at the same time."
While White has tried to bring live fights back to a world he feels is starving for sports, he has found himself on the receiving end of criticism. Corners of MMA fandom and media have taken issue with White's push to hold contact sports during a pandemic and the potential risks that come along with such a move. It's not something White has received kindly.
"I would say the worst is people think I'm out there saying I don't care about the coronavirus and we're going to do this anyway," White said. "We know how serious the coronavirus is. We're taking it very serious. Health and safety didn't just pop up for us a few weeks ago with the coronavirus, it has always a concern for us for the last 20 years. I'm one of these type of people who likes to figure out: how do we solve this problem instead of running and hiding from it? I think we've got it figured out.
"Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, but ... are you telling me they couldn't golf right now? They couldn't do a live golf match on TV? Of course they could. The reality is, the powers-that-be in golf are afraid of the media. I'm not afraid of the media."
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While singling out golf as a sport that could likely move forward safely, White also said he hopes that his insistence on holding events will have a ripple effect, leading more sports leagues to fire up operations with the NFL, NBA, MLB and others currently in limbo.
"What I'm kind of hoping is this gives other sports leagues the confidence to get out there and do what I'm doing and figure this thing out in how to put on a sport as safely as you possibly can," White said. "I submitted a 30-page document to the governor of Nevada and the governor of Florida, and I would be willing to share that document with any of the other leagues after we pull this thing off next week."
White has also made news during his push in recent weeks by dropping the bombshell news that the UFC had secured an island to hold international fights. Fight Island has been a trending topic in the community ever since. White clarified that he did not "buy" the island, but hopes the infrastructure is in place by early summer because of its newfound importance to UFC business.
"I didn't purchase the island, I just cut a deal for us to use this island for as long as this thing lasts," White said. "The one thing we did when this all started was try to figure out how this was going to affect our business over the next year or more. The one thing that we absolutely knew with this problem was that we were going to have trouble getting people in from out of the country as the world started to shut down. We're a global business. If we just keep putting on fights in the U.S., we're going to smoke all our talent and we won't be able to put on fights for the rest of the year. We need international fights.
"We figured out this deal with Fight Island. All the infrastructure is being built, and it will hopefully be done by mid-June and I can go that weekend that it's done or by the end of June we'll start putting on international fights. These are fights we would have done in Brazil, Canada, Perth, Australia and the list goes on and on.
You can watch the full interview with UFC president Dana White on CBS Sports HQ in the video player above.