Israel Adesanya credits Dana White for making UFC 249 happen

Israel Adesanya, Kobe Bryant
Image via @stylebender on Instagram (photographer not listed)

Israel Adesanya has given props to UFC president Dana White for pushing forward with fights despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The middleweight champion joined Ariel Helwani this week to discuss the updated UFC 249 card. The event is scheduled to take place on April 18, but has undergone major changes in the wake of COVID-19. Khabib Nurmagomedov is out of the main event and has been replaced by Justin Gaethje. He will fight Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title and a new fight card has been announced. According to The New York Times, the event has also been moved to Tribal Land in California.

Bringing any fight card to fruition has become a logistical nightmare for the UFC. The decision to go ahead has garnered criticism from industry professionals. Eddie Hearn labelled the decision in “bad taste.” Nevertheless, the middleweight champion backs Dana White’s decision but is unsure if he will be able to pull it off.

“I’m ready to fight. [But] We’ll see what happens with this show first,” he said to Ariel Helwani. “We will see if it actually pulls off or be like Fyre Festival. Because that’s another way it could go.”

Fyre Festival was a supposed luxury music festival that crumbled disastrously due to a lack of organization and misappropriation of funds. It is widely regarded as the biggest flop in music event history. However, the 185-pound fighter believes White’s hard work may pay off.

“But I have faith. I really think, if there’s a time to step up…” said Adesanya. “I actually talked to Dana a few days ago actually. You know what, kudos to this guy for working at a time right now when he should be taking a rest like everybody else. I just said ‘hey thanks for trying to put this card together.’ He said ‘man this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done’.

“I was like ‘man this guy is ballsy, this is why the UFC got to where it is, because of this guy’…I mean this is crazy, MMA is going to be the only sport in the world that’s active. That’s crazy, I can’t think of any other sports that are being played right now. But like, the whole world’s literally going to watch this event. It’s going to be properly, the whole world is going to be watching.”

White has received criticism for controversies including fighter’s pay and the UFC’s alleged monopoly on the MMA industry. Stylebender acknowledges previous criticisms but believes he also deserves respect for his hard work.

“With Dana, I was just giving him props because the guy gets a lot of hate all the time. Sometimes rightfully so, but also he needs to get credit when credit is due, and for this one, if he makes this happen, and what a fight! Ferguson vs Gaethje. This could be on a different level.”

Are you on the Eddie Hearn or Israel Adesanya side of the fence with Dana White’s decision to go ahead with UFC 249? Let us know in the comments below.