UFC: Dana White Talks Masvidal, Adesanya vs Costa And Backup Plans
Jorge Masvidal was originally slated to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title at UFC 251. However, negotiations broke down after ‘Gamebred’ expressed his dissatisfaction with the financial side of the deal. As a result, the number one contender Gilbert Burns, was booked instead.
But after Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn’t able to compete, Dana White and the UFC were able to strike a deal with Masvidal, who stepped in to fight Usman at UFC 251 on one week’s notice. The first card on Fight Island turned out to be a major success and reportedly sold 1.3 million pay-per-views.
Jorge Masvidal’s Star Power
Speaking to the media this week on Fight Island (transcript by MMA Mania), Dana admitted that Masvidal has huge star power, despite losing a unanimous decision to Usman, who is proving himself to be a dominant champion.
“Masvidal is a massive star. Obviously, Usman, the champion and a guy that we’re all start to realise is tough to beat and a great card underneath, it was a very successful event,” Dana said. “We’re happy. This thing killed it across the board in every way you could possibly kill it. It was awesome. The thing did really well.”
Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa
Ahead of UFC 251, EA Sports revealed that Masvidal and Israel Adesanya had been chosen to feature on the cover of UFC 4, due out next month. The UFC middleweight champion is also looking to assert his star power by defending his title against Paulo Costa. The two have been trading blows on social media, and there has also been plenty of speculation about the two coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
While it seems that the whole MMA community is growing impatient to see the fight between Adesanya and Costa booked, Dana isn’t in a rush to make it.
“There’s no hold up. We just haven’t done it yet,” he said. “There’s no hold up. We’re focused on Fight Island, I’m not thinking about anything other than this right now. We have fights laid out until October, our schedule’s already made, we’re way ahead of this thing. When it’s time, we’ll announce it.”
Dana’s Backup Plans
UFC is currently putting all its promotional resources into Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, which may turn out to be a home for many more events than initially planned.
As the coronavirus pandemic is getting out of control in many states in the United States, Dana revealed that Fight Island will serve as a backup, should restrictions be put in place once again in Nevada, cancelling the UFC APEX events.
“My back up plan would be ‘Fight Island.’ We might be living here. Anything is possible. If Nevada shuts down and doesn’t allow us to do fights in Nevada, I am going to be spending a lot of time in Abu Dhabi.”
Dana is apparently thinking two steps ahead in order to keep the fights rolling on schedule, and hopes there will be no postponed shows.
“I hope not,” he said. “Listen, we have proved that we can do these things in Nevada or anywhere, safely. So, hopefully we can keep doing what we do in Nevada and we can keep coming to Abu Dhabi for international fights. That is what I am hoping for. But yes, I am thinking about what will happen if we get shut down and what is next.”
Dana White and the UFC have nine events planned for their APEX Center in Las Vegas in August, including four Contender Series events and UFC 252.