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ESPN tells Dana White to cancel UFC 249

April 10 (UPI) -- ESPN has told UFC President Dana White to cancel UFC 249 -- which was planned for April 18 -- after White announced the fight card for the event Monday.

The event was initially scheduled in New York City before it had to be moved due to the coronavirus pandemic. White secured another venue -- the Tachi Palace Casino Resort near Lemoore, Calif., -- before announcing a 12-fight card Monday. Two of the fighters from the two main events had previously withdrawn from their fights.

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"Today, we got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney, and the highest level at ESPN ... and the powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event [next] Saturday," White told ESPN.

UFC 249 is a pay-per-view event that was scheduled to air on ESPN+. White said he would be ready to put on another fight next week if he gets the "thumbs-up" from ESPN.

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ESPN released a statement saying it "has been in constant contact with the UFC regarding UFC 249."

"Nobody wants to see sports return more than we do, but we didn't feel this was the right time for a variety of reasons," the network said. "ESPN expressed its concerns to the UFC and they understood."

White said he still plans to bring fights to the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in the future.

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"It's been a battle since day one," White said. "We've been fighting nonstop all day and all night, since this pandemic started, to put on this event on April 18."

Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson were set to fight in an interim lightweight title bout, headlining UFC 249. Khabib Nurmagomedov previously pulled out of the fight against Ferguson as he is in quarantine in Russia due to the pandemic. Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade were set to fight in a co-main event before Namajunas pulled out. The women's strawweight competitor withdrew due to two coronavirus-related deaths in her family.

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