The head of the world’s biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) body said he would allow UFC fighters to chose for themselves on the issue of getting vaccinated.
The reason? Because the US is a “free country”.
“I believe as an American, that’s your choice,” said Mr White, who has been critical of Covid measures in the past.
“If you want to get vaccinated – your body. This is a free country. You do what you want.”
Ahead of UFC 268, which is being held at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, the UFC president told Fox News that New York City’s vaccination mandate for city employees was “crazy”.
“My fighters can get vaccinated or not,” he said. “We’re not forcing people to get vaccinated.”
New York City also requires vaccination proof for indoor public spaces, including the location of the UFC 268 on Saturday.
Mr White told unvaccinated MMA and UFC fans: “I’m going to be putting on 44 other events around the country. You can go to one of those shows”.
Despite previously vowing to keep “politics” away from UFC, his fighting events returned to full capacity in April in Florida – and in May, former US president Donald Trump appeared via video message ahead of a fight to rally against “woke politics” and public health measures to combat Covid.
During his interview with Fox News, Mr White argued that his and UFC’s successes were because of “finding solutions to problems instead of hiding” amid Covid.
“I’m an American”, said Mr White of running the UFC throughout Covid. “I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for the government to take care of me or my people.”
The comments appeared to be criticism of vaccination mandates and Covid measures, which have come under fire from the right – despite being introduced to lower the risks associated with Covid.
All sports from college football to professional baseball and basketball have contended with issues around protecting players and staff, as well as fans, from Covid.
The NFL, although not issuing a Covid vaccination mandate for players, introduced fines for Covid outbreaks among groups of unvaccinated players – over 93 per cent of whom have been immunised.
The Independent has approached UFC for comment.
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