After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's controversial executive order to open up all businesses to full capacity and end the statewide mask mandate, UFC president Dana White was ready to charge head-first into holding events in the state. Mayors in many of the biggest cities in Texas have been hesitant to follow Abbott's plan, however, leaving White frustrated as he seeks to hold the first full-capacity event for the promotion since UFC 248 in March 2020.
"The governor is claiming that Texas is open," White said during the post-fight press conference for Saturday's UFC 259 event. "I talked to him. He wants to open Texas, he wants all businesses to resume, but these mayors in these towns feel differently. So, it's unfortunate. The governor is announcing that Texas is open. Texas isn't open. As frustrating as it is, I'm ready to go. I will move March 27 to Texas today if one of these places would open, but they're not doing it. But at the end of the day, oh well, we'll all just stay here at the Apex."
UFC 260 is slated for March 27, an event headlined by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defending his title against top contender Francis Ngannou. White's statement he would move the event on such short notice echoes comments he made in the week leading up to UFC 259 and in the wake of Gov. Abbott's order.
"I want to go to Texas ASAP," White said. "I'll go in the next two, three weeks. I'm ready to roll. We'll be first. We'll open this thing up, we'll sell it out and be on our way. ... I'm ready to go. I'd move this one [UFC 259] if we could. I told everybody when this opened up that I would be first and we would go first. And we will."
Following UFC 259, White said he was happy that the promotion launched their massive UFC Apex facility just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to disrupt global business. The Apex -- along with "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi -- has served as the promotion's home base May 2020.
The Apex had opened less than one year before the start of the pandemic, putting the promotion in a good spot to continue moving forward with less complexity than having to deal with building contracts or rotating arenas with no fans in attendance. And White has made it clear he has no interest in hosting events with fans at anything less than full capacity.
With that in mind, White said their home at the Apex will continue to work fine for the promotion until he can get fans in the building.
"I don't know if you guys are getting as comfy here as I am. And as lazy," White said at the press conference. "It's pretty easy to swing over here and just walk in and do what we do here. So we can do this forever, and yes, the Apex is one of the smartest things we've done in 20 years. Timing was everything in life. This place was done just in time for a global pandemic. This and Fight Island was a really big deal."