UFC President Dana White told reporters Monday that he is close to securing a location for UFC 249, which he says will take place on April 18 without fans present despite the world’s near-total shutdown to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I do (know where it will take place), but I’m not ready to tell you yet,” White told Yahoo’s Kevin Iole in an Instagram Live interview that was transcribed by MMA Junkie. “I know lots of things. . . . There’s not going to be any fans there. It’s going to be a closed event.”

Later Monday, White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he has “99.9%” confirmed the location of UFC 249, which he previously said likely would be held on foreign soil. The pay-per-view card originally was to be fought in Brooklyn, New York, before officials there banned large gatherings.

Last week, White announced that the three UFC cards that were to have preceded UFC 249 had been canceled but maintained that the pay-per-view card – headlined by a hotly anticipated 155-pound title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, a matchup that already has been postponed four times – would go on as scheduled. He told Okamoto on Monday that the card will feature a full slate of bouts.

“Full card,” White said. “We’re going to face some problems, I’m sure. There are always problems with every card we put on, and with this situation, you expect there will be more, but we will still find a way to promote these fights. We always … do.”

White told Iole that UFC will accommodate any fighter with concerns about coronavirus.

“Everybody who is going to be involved in this thing is going to be because they want to be, not because they have to be or they have to do anything,” he said. “Believe me: We didn’t just start thinking about safety when the coronavirus popped up. Health and safety, these are things that normal businesses that are out there right now don’t necessarily have to think about on a daily basis. Health and safety is something we’ve been doing long before the coronavirus and we’ll be doing it long after the coronavirus is gone. This is just normal (expletive) for us.”

Okamoto reports that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have kept up with their training, with the former relocating from California to his native Russia.

UFC already has held one show without fans present, a UFC Fight Night event on March 14 in Brasilia. Last week, White railed against those who criticized his stance on holding fights, promised to be “up and running before any other sport will” and raised the possibility of staging cards without fans present at the company’s Apex training facility in Las Vegas. However, the Nevada Athletic Commission announced March 15 that it was banning all combat sports events in the state for the immediate future.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.