Veteran MMA referee John McCarthy believes the top dogs at Disney and ESPN asked UFC President Dana White to cancel UFC 249 because they were concerned about the optics of going ahead with the event during a public health crisis.
McCarthy weighed in on the cancelation of the card, which was most recently expected to go down at the Tachi Palace Casino on tribal land in California on April 18, on his Weighing In podcast.
“You can win battles and lose wars,” McCarthy said (h/t MMA Junkie). “And that’s what in the end has happened here is politically. You need to understand, when you’re going against the government, you’re probably going to go against something that in the end is probably going to cause you a problem. And if you think that you could beat that? We couldn’t beat it in the past. It was a lot of problems and it caused problems for the UFC in the past, caused problems for the sport, and you start getting senators, you’re getting governors coming down on you?
“There’s lot of power there, man,” McCarthy added. “And eventually Disney and ESPN said this is bad publicity, this is bad for us, we’re going to shut it down. It wasn’t Dana that shut it down, it was his bosses that basically shut it down.”
McCarthy continued, admitting he understands White’s determination to make good on his promises and give the fans a long-awaited fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, which was expected to headline the event.
“This became almost this whole point of now, ‘I said I was going to do something,’ being Dana, ‘and I’m going to prove that I can do it.’ And his whole thing was the Tony-Khabib fight, and I’m kind of in there with him. Let’s just be honest, I want to see that fight. And it’s been shut down four times and man, I don’t want it to be shut down a fifth time.
“I know what’s right, in that, there’s a pandemic going on. It may not be a problem for a young person, athlete-wise. But you’re going to have a problem where they have people they’re coming back to, and if they get sick and give it to someone else, there’s just bad issues involved with that.”
What do you think of these comments from John McCarthy?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/13/2020.