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Volume 26 No. 174
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Dana White Calls Out HBO's John Oliver For UFC 249 Criticism

UFC President Dana White responded to criticism levied on the MMA promotion over the weekend by HBO's John Oliver, stating the comedian's commentary was a "perfect example of how you can control the narrative by using selective facts." Oliver during a segment about the return of sports noted fighter Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza tested positive for coronavirus prior to his May 9 fight at UFC 249, adding that this showed holding events was not safe. White wrote on Twitter, "We did approximately 1,100 tests, only 3 were positive, it was a fighter and his 2 trainers and we had 3 events NOT 1" (TWITTER.com, 5/18).

MORE OF OLIVER'S COMMENTS: Oliver noted sports coming back safely and responsibly will be a "mammoth undertaking" and said, "Clearly, staging events is risky at the moment." After referencing Souza's withdrawal, Oliver said, "If you want to come back completely without risk, that's just not possible right now. Yet, many sports organizations are feeling real pressure to ignore that risk.” Oliver: “Profit is a powerful motivator here, especially for some team owners who won't be the ones taking the risks. And it's why major sports, like baseball and football, are so eagerly pursuing plans to come back. But assuming that you can't just stage all events in Jacksonville or on some stupidly named island somewhere, how do you do it in the safest possible way?” He added, "You just isolate everyone involved and test the hell out of them, which intuitively seems like it might work. ... But when you think about that for more than a second, it all becomes much, much more complicated. ... By one estimate, even a bubble league would require nearly 10,000 people, all of whom would need constant testing." Oliver concluded, "As hard as it is to hear, we might need a little more time to make sure that we get this right” (“Last Week Tonight,” HBO, 5/17).