The UFC will hold its next pay-per-view event in California, as UFC 249 will go off at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort, according to multiple media reports.
The tribal casino has hosted mixed martial arts events in the past, with the resort hosting most of the early World Extreme Cagefighting events before that promotion was purchased by Zuffa and eventually merged into the UFC.
All Signs Point to Tachi Palace
The UFC initially planned to hold its April 18 event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Then, the New York State Athletic Commission announced that it wouldn’t authorize UFC 249 during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing Dana White to search for a new venue.
White and the UFC have yet to announce a venue for UFC 249, but Jeff Sherwood – founder of the Sherdog.com MMA website – reported on Monday that Tachi Palace will be hosting the card.
— Sherdog (@TheSherdoggy) April 6, 2020
By Tuesday, The New York Times had picked up the story, citing three people familiar with the decision confirming the California venue. Local reporter Brian Johnson tweeted Wednesday that Kings County Sherriff David Robinson is aware that a televised event, not open to the public, will be taking place at Tachi Palace on April 18.
Yesterday the @nytimes reported that #UFC249 was going to be held at @Tachipalace on April 18. KC Sheriff David Robinson tells me he’s aware of an event at the palace that day. He says it will be a televised event and *not* open to the public. @ABC30 https://t.co/HvK3C6Lq4a
— Brian Johnson (@BrianABC30) April 8, 2020
White recently said he had secured a location that would allow the UFC to hold events in the United States for at least the next two months. Beyond that, he said that he was working on securing a private island for fights between international athletes, one that could circumvent the travel restrictions that have made it impossible to hold fights between competitors based in different parts of the world.
UFC 249 Working Around Restrictions, Missing Fighters
Such restrictions scuttled the planned UFC 249 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov traveled back to his home in Russia, and cannot make it back to the United States for the fight. The UFC replaced him with lightweight contender Justin Gaethje.
Holding UFC 249 on tribal lands will allow the UFC to ignore California’s stay-at-home order and hold the card without the blessing of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which has canceled all combat sports in the state through the end of May.
While such workarounds are a legitimate temporary solution, the UFC runs the risk that these tactics might draw the ire of state commissions going forward.
“The commission echoes the guidance of California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Department of Public Health, local health officials, and the recommendations of the Association of Ringside Physicians regarding the cancellation of events where people may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 and encourages the industry to do the same,” CSAC said in a statement. “The commission will not participate in the UFC event on April 18, regardless of the event location.”
UFC 249 appears to be down one of its biggest attractions. On Wednesday, ESPN reported that former women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas had dropped off the card for undisclosed reasons. Namajunas was scheduled to take on Jessica Andrade in the co-main event.