The facts and fiction of Dana White's UFC 'Fight Island'
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Dana White has grown tired of not being able to make money. The UFC’s president has used every trick in the book to ensure the show would go on, as most organized sports have shut down around him, but his latest scheme may be his most creative.
Angling to circumvent the quarantine in California, White attempted to stage UFC 249 at an Indian casino. Disney and ESPN ultimately intervened, and told White the event was off.
His new plan is part "Enter The Dragon" and part "Fyre Festival." If the fights can’t happen on the mainland, he’ll stage them on a vacant island. As crazy as it sounds, plans are in motion to make it a reality.
White is going full steam ahead
The UFC has filed 22 trademarks related to “Fight Island,” after Disney and ESPN told White to stand down on UFC 249. White affirmed in an interview with ESPN that “Fight Island” is close to becoming a reality, and the first event could happen as soon as next month.
On April 13, the UFC filed 22 new trademarks for:— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) April 17, 2020
'UFC FIGHT ISLAND'
The filings were made based on an "intent to use" FIGHT ISLAND as the name of a mixed martial arts competition and for branded goods such as clothing and jewelry.#UFC #ufc249 pic.twitter.com/Q9cHHQJFBK
"All the infrastructure is being built right now and getting put in place. As we get closer to that, then I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting guys ready. ... So, once that’s all in place — we’re looking at like a month — I’ll have that all put together, and guys can start training and can go there," White said to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
ESPN and Disney have been resistant
White’s recent attempts to preserve multiple UFC cards have been met with hesitation. ESPN and parent company Disney know this could be a PR nightmare, but White is dogged. He is banking on "Fight Island" becoming an uncontested success, despite all arguments against it.
"Fight Island" could be a marketing coup
The marketing around "Fight Island" would come with a massive amount of press, with the sports landscape barren since the COVID-19 breakout. Even if the card is filled with mismatches, fans desperate for some sort of normalcy will be drawn to the event.
Is White setting himself up for failure?
This move is destined to fail. As hard as it has been adjusting to this new way of life, we’re all better off leaving our ambition at bay and holding course.