The devil’s in the details: Dana White boasts UFC 261 is SOLD OUT – but fans in the US are warned attendance could result in DEATH
Dana White has gleefully announced that next month's UFC 261 will be the first event they have hosted in front of a sold out crowd in more than a year – but fans are being warned that they risk DEATH by attending the show.
Throughout much of the Covid-19 pandemic, White had proclaimed that he would be the first major sporting figure to hold events in a full arena, jumping at the opportunity to hold a showpiece in Jacksonville, Florida amid the state's relaxation of Coronavirus restrictions.
The fight card – which will be topped by the welterweight world title bout between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal – also features two other world title fights and is expected to be one of the promotion's bumper events for this calendar year.
Given the significant risks of mass public gatherings, the UFC's legal team has prepared some unique 'small print' at the point of sale to ensure that fight fans are aware of the potential risks of attending – while also safeguarding the fight league from any potential legal action which may follow.
Thank you UFC fans!!!- Sold out in minutes. One of the fastest sell outs in UFC history. - Arena record for highest gross. - 15k attendance I will see you in Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/mPwmOf4Saa— danawhite (@danawhite) March 26, 2021
"Thank you, UFC fans," White announced on Twitter. "Sold out in minutes. One of the fastest sellouts in UFC history. Arena record for highest gross. 15,000 attendance. I will see you in Jacksonville."
Hidden in the ticket-buying process, though, was a lengthy list of potential risks to attendees for which the UFC are keen to say that they accept no liability whatsoever.
They include an emphasis that travel to and from the arena and attendance could lead to the exposure and contraction of the virus, and that it could result in "severe and permanent damage to the health" of buyers and others, listed under an 'Assumption of Risk' category in the event's terms and conditions.
That damage is not limited to death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, loss of taste or smell, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities and medical expenses."
Are you really a fight fan if you don't risk bringing back a highly infectious virus back to your community?— E. Casey Leydon (@ekc) March 26, 2021
It really rubs me the wrong way seeing the incredible lengths Dana is going to willingly subject a packed audience to the same potentially fatal virus that he’s been so proficient at protecting his fighters & staff against the past 365 days. It really can’t wait a little longer?— p a r k 𓅓 (@P_Drizzy02) March 26, 2021
You think these guys give a sh*t? 😂 pic.twitter.com/wSpRvWn4PK— Yasuke (@KombatJunky) March 26, 2021
The minutiae also exempt the UFC from responsibility around issues such as self-quarantine, insurance, expenses and loss of earnings.
Reaction to the announcement has been varied, with some fans questioning the safety of holding next month's event in front of a capacity crowd while the US continues to ramp up its vaccination drive.
"Are you really a fight fan if you don't risk bringing a highly infectious virus back to your community?" wrote one fan online, while another hit out at White for potentially subjecting fans to the type of risk he has spent much of the past year trying to minimalize for his fighters.
Florida, though, has been noted for its vigor in peeling back the layers of restrictions which have affected the state for much of the past year – with throngs of youngsters making headlines during the past week for repeated instances of anti-social behavior during Spring Break.Also on rt.com ‘We are BACK!’: UFC 261 to take place with FULL CROWD in Florida as Usman vs Masvidal to headline
That said, holding a fight card in front of a sold-out crowd will be one of the first signs of a true return to normalcy after a 12-month period in which the global sporting landscape was hugely disrupted.
White and the UFC will be hoping that the event goes off without a hitch, and that the UFC's team of crack lawyers won't be forced to rely on the legal jargon to neuter lawsuits from anyone who falls ill after attending the show.
In addition to the Usman vs. Masvidal championship fight, Zhang Weili defends her women's strawweight title against Rose Namajunas while Valentina Shevchenko does the same for her flyweight strap against Jessica Andrade.Also on rt.com UFC boss White says Dustin Poirier has been ‘smart’ to turn down world title bout in favor of trilogy fight with Conor McGregor