LAS VEGAS -- UFC president Dana White has promised that his company will be the first major sports organization to return to a normal schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic, and he is already planning his next event for May 9 at a location to be determined.
White told ESPN on Tuesday that he is deep in the process of building out the card, despite the recent postponement of a UFC 249 pay-per-view event scheduled for this Saturday. The UFC has had to postpone events on March 21, March 28, April 11 and April 18 due to the coronavirus.
In an interview with ESPN late last week, White was adamant that he had a plan in place to hold UFC 249 at Tachi Palace Casino Resort on tribal lands in Lemoore, California, but he said ESPN asked him to "stand down" due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus. ESPN later confirmed White's comments in a statement.
The UFC's next pay-per-view event is UFC 250, originally scheduled to take place on May 9 in Sao Paulo. That event will no longer happen in Brazil, but White told ESPN that is the date his promotion has targeted for a return -- and he already has the potential card built out.
Some of the targeted fights include an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, a bantamweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz, who has publicly accepted the bout, and a featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer, both of whom have publicly accepted.
Ferguson has agreed to the proposed headliner on May 9, according to sources, and Gaethje followed suit later Wednesday with his own agreement to fight, according to Dominance MMA.
Several of the bouts have also been agreed to, and others are in the process of being finalized. A new welterweight matchup, for instance, between Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Anthony Pettis has been verbally agreed to, sources said.
Per sources, several fighters expressed an eagerness to compete, but some are frustrated over the recent cancellations and expressed a hesitancy to fully commit. None of the targeted fights will be 100% official until bout agreements are signed.
A number of other matchups were previously booked at UFC 249 or on one of the other postponed cards. The entire targeted lineup, which is subject to change, according to White, is as follows:
Ferguson vs. Gaethje
Cejudo vs. Cruz
Nunes vs. Spencer
Francis Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik
Cerrone vs. Pettis
Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro
Oleinik vs. Fabricio Werdum
Charles Rosa vs. Mitchell
White declined to comment on a potential location for the event. The UFC president has commented on the possibility of a "Fight Island" being ready to host an event in a month, but he has not disclosed where it is.