The UFC has postponed its next three events, the last of which was scheduled to take place on April 11, due to the ever-growing impact of the coronavirus.
UFC president Dana White alerted his entire staff of the decision via email on Monday.
According to White, the company was prepared to do whatever it took to move forward with UFC Fight Night events on March 21, March 28 and April 11, but the White House's recommendation to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people made hosting events impossible.
"As you've heard me say, I've been in the fight game for 20 years, and this is what we do: We find a way to keep our events going no matter what," White wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. "But this is different. The whole world is being affected right now, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your families."
In addition to postponing events, the UFC has closed its executive offices in Las Vegas.
Beyond April 11, the UFC's next pay-per-view event is scheduled to take place April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The UFC 249 main event features a highly anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Tony Ferguson (25-3). According to White, the UFC still plans to promote that event for now, either in New York or elsewhere.
"Tony Ferguson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov is still on," White said on SportsCenter on Monday. "That will happen. We're going to follow these guidelines, not have more than 10 people in a room. We're hoping this all clears up by April, and this fight is going to happen. Whatever it takes, probably not in the United States, but this fight is going to happen."
Until Monday, the UFC was one of the last sports organizations in the world that had put off suspending play. The promotion held a UFC Fight Night event on Saturday in Brasilia, Brazil, without fans in the arena. Saturday's event was originally supposed to take place in London, but the UFC canceled those plans due to travel restrictions between the United States and the United Kingdom.
"Obviously, the president just spoke to the country and basically said -- it started at [no more than] 50 people in a room, which made [Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Brasilia] difficult, but we complied, we took all fans out and made sure as few production people in the room as possible, we pulled it off last Saturday," White said. "Now, they're saying thee should be no more than 10 people, and that's impossible. We can't do it. We've complied with everything the government and doctors have said to do, we have no choice but to postpone these fights."
The UFC's original plan was to move the events to its Apex facility in Las Vegas, the site of its Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series. Those plans were nixed last weekend when the Nevada State Athletic Commission temporarily suspended all combat sports in the state.