UFC president Dana White has repeatedly shunned expert medical advice in favor of hosting events.
UFC Brasilia carried on in March despite the rest of the sports world shutting down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. White tried to skirt state and regulatory mandates in April in an effort to host UFC 249 on California tribal land before ESPN shut it down.
Now that he’s found his Florida host for Saturday’s UFC 249 slate, he says President Donald Trump will be looking to the event as a beacon for how to open the rest of the country as the pandemic persists.
Trump’s ‘absolutely watching what we’re doing’
“Absolutely," White told TMZ on Friday when asked if Trump is looking at the event as a blueprint to reopen the country. “His whole philosophy was let's get sports back first, figure out how to do that safely. Then let's start figuring out how do you get people back in the office? How do you get people in cubicles? And, then how do you get kids back in school?"
“So, this is something we've been working on and yes, he's absolutely watching what we're doing this weekend.”
Trump’s relationship with White
White previously said that he’s followed Trump’s cues in his decisions to move forward with events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, according to White, Trump will be following his in how to manage America.
Latest coronavirus numbers
UFC 249 will take place as states across the nation loosen shelter-at-home regulations behind Trump’s encouragement.
That easing comes amid pressure to restart the economy despite warnings from medical experts that opening too soon will lead to further spread of COVID-19, delivering more illness and death and another blow to an already battered economy.
As of Friday nearly 1/3 of the world’s confirmed 3.9 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the United States. More than 1.2 million Americans have been confirmed with the coronavirus, leading to more than 76,000 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control forecasts that death toll to nearly double in the next three months.
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