Title

The show must go on: The strategy and spectacle of Dana White's efforts to promote UFC 249 during the coronavirus pandemic

Publication Date

9-1-2020

Document Type

Article

Department

Kinesiology

Publication Title

International Journal of Sport Communication

Volume

13

Issue

3

DOI

10.1123/ijsc.2020-0240

First Page

381

Last Page

390

Abstract

While most professional sports quickly postponed their seasons due to COVID- 19, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took a decidedly contrarian approach as president Dana White continued to promote UFC 249 until pressure forced its cancelation on April 9, 2020. Drawing from work on sport and spectacle and the media as well as sport management scholarship on crisis management, the authors provide a commentary on the mediated spectacle of White's (eventually successful) efforts to promote UFC 249 during the pandemic. Drawing from numerous media sources, they discuss how White sought to control the public narrative in several key ways. The authors further explore how White decried the seriousness of the pandemic while centralizing the UFC's place in the U.S. sporting landscape. Finally, the authors discuss how White's efforts might both help and hinder the UFC as a mainstream sports promotion.

Keywords

Athlete labor, COVID-19, Media, MMA, Sport journalism

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