Could California squash UFC’s plans to host UFC 249 on tribal land at Tachi Palace?
Dana White has insisted at every turn that UFC 249 scheduled for April 18 would not be canceled. He and the UFC reportedly are looking to a possible legal loophole in order to conduct the fight, but there may be a problem.
Jeff Sherwood, the founder of MMA publication Sherdog, reported on Monday that the UFC was planning to host its next four scheduled events at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, Calif.
— Sherdog (@TheSherdoggy) April 6, 2020
The New York Times confirmed that report on Tuesday.
Tachi Palace is a casino located near Fresno, Calif. in the central valley area of the state (the casino has been closed since March 20). It is located on land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut Tribe, part of the federally recognized Santa Rosa Indian Community.
Tachi Palace hosts boxing and MMA fights regularly (LBS has even covered boxing fights there in the past). Because it is located on sovereign land, fights hosted there do not necessarily need to be subjected to sanctioning by the state’s athletic commission.
White previously said he had an undisclosed venue in place to host two months of UFC events. He was then planning to host events at a private island.
But there could be a problem for White with this sovereign-land loophole.
Public Law 280 is a federal law establishing “a method whereby States may assume jurisdiction over reservation Indians.” California is one of six states that has federal law enforcement authority within tribal nations. That means California’s government could theoretically attempt to use this law to shut down the UFC’s attempt to stage the fights.
Would this actually happen? It’s hard to say, but it’s obvious that the intent of the UFC is to avoid current state rules in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, New York, but the government is not allowing non-essential businesses to operate, which means the UFC fights wouldn’t be allowed to take place there currently.