It is far from a secret that Dana White has never been the biggest proponent of COVID-19 safety procedures. So it is not particularly surprising to hear him say that masks will not be required for fans attending UFC 261.
From the start of the global pandemic, White has done everything he could to downplay the seriousness of what was happening. He waited until the very last second to stop holding events, and only did so after essentially being forced to by Disney executives.
Of course, it is important to note that, as a whole, the UFC has actually done a great job handling their shows after returning to action. They practically set the precedent for how sporting events can safely take place, with regular testing of athletes, and keeping people in a bubble before events.
Dana White Says Masks Not Required
Dana White recently revealed the somewhat questionable decision that UFC events will be going back to full capacity, beginning with this weekend’s UFC 261 in Florida. This was compounded by the fact that the event apparently sold out in seconds.
However it seems that there will not be a heavy amount of safety protocols for fans attending the event. Speaking in a recent interview, Dana revealed that masks will be optional for those in attendance at the VyStar Arena in Jacksonville.
“The reality is, we had to create a bubble that would be safe, so first of all, the athletes wouldn’t end up with COVID and have all these fights falling out. But the media was being so crazy about the whole COVID thing, you had to make the media feel safe,” White said (h/t Bloody Elbow).
“In Jacksonville, everything is opening up again. Even in Vegas, it’s going to be open June 1st, but 100% open in July. There’s still going to be some things that are set in place. We’re still going to have a bubble for the athletes, and things like that. But as far as the fans, you can wear a mask, or you can not wear a mask. It’s up to you. It’s your decision.”
On top of that, White revealed that the requirements on vaccinations for athletes are a little lax. He did say that all of the UFC employees that live in Nevada have been required to get vaccinated.
That said, he explained that it was a bit tougher to make that happen for athletes and employees that do not live in Nevada. However he explained that he is strongly recommending that those people seek out the vaccine.
“What we did is all of our employees have been vaccinated — we made sure that all of our employees that are here with a Nevada residence have vaccinated,” White responded.
“The problem is state to state. I have employees in California, and the ring card girls, and stuff like that too. They don’t like giving it out to people from other states. So whatever states the fighters live in, they need to check with their local people and see about getting vaccinated.”
Dana on fans at UFC 261: You can wear a mask. Or not wear a mask. It's up to you. It's your decision.
— Jed I. Goodman (@jedigoodman) April 20, 2021
UFC 261 goes down this weekend with Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal 2 in the main event. Hopefully this does not backfire for Dana White, and it turns out that he was right to make this call, but considering that Florida has been one of the hardest hit states for the pandemic, it is still a bit concerning.