The UFC pinned a Fight Night for early March in Riyadh, but the event has been pushed back. Ariel Helwani reported on The MMA Hour that the event is now expected to take place in June because the region was not happy with the fight card offered.
While White confirmed the planned event and its rescheduling, he disputed the reason for the move was due to a weak lineup for the event.
“We moved the card, and I know there’s been a lot of talk about the card wasn’t good enough,” White told Sportsnet’s Aaron Bronsteter. “We never even proposed a card to them. We didn’t tell Saudi Arabia about one fight. So, that’s all bullsh*t.
PFL founder Donn Davis also perpetuated the rumor in the wake of the announcement of PFL vs. Bellator which takes place in Riyadh on Feb. 24. The event features four champion vs. champion bouts, which led Davis to believe the strength of the card outshined what the UFC was planning to bring to Riyadh a week later.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the UFC March 2 event was canceled the day before our fight event (announcement),” Davis said on The MMA Hour. “Those who know MMA said, ‘That is not a mega-event. That is not worthy of being hosted in Saudi Arabia. That is a poor fight-quality card the UFC put forth on March 2.'”
Davis admitted the UFC is capable of stacking a fight card that would be worthy for its debut in Saudi Arabia, but it’s not something the promotion does often, or was planning to do in this instance.
White stated the reason for the event’s rescheduling was due to some matchups not being able to come together in time, but not because Saudi Arabia wasn’t happy. White said the event will be a Fight Night card with a solid lineup, but without a championship fight.
“We never even proposed a card to them,” White explained. “What we wanted to do is, every time the UFC puts on an event, we want to blow the doors off the place. We want people to be excited. So it was our first fight ever in Saudi Arabia, and a couple of fights that we wanted to line up, they weren’t ready to go.
“So, we pushed the card back because we’re going to deliver. But never once was one fight proposed to Saudi Arabia, and they were like, ‘Yeah, no. This isn’t good enough.”