If the UFC thought they were going to be the exception to the sports rule during the coronavirus outbreak, they might be badly mistaken.
As their UFC Brasilia, Brazil, event was happening in front of an empty arena Saturday afternoon, news broke that the Nevada Athletic Commission will discuss the indefinite suspension of all combat sports at their upcoming March 25th meeting:
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From the NAC emergency meeting agenda. Whatever they’re deciding today is heading into their regular meeting on the 25th. Let’s not assume anything beyond March 25 is off until we actually hear what they have to say. pic.twitter.com/GXZkotCm6y
— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) March 14, 2020
In the immediate term, that would include two UFC shows that were rescheduled to the company’s APEX facility, originally set for March 28th (Columbus, OH) and April 11 (Portland, OR). If a suspension decision is made coming out of the meeting, that would complicate things for fighters preparing for competition just three days later.
In a statement to ESPN, NAC executive director Bob Bennett said, “I’ve been in constant contact with a litany of doctors and medical professionals and am intimately familiar with most professional and amateur sports events being suspended at this point in time for an undetermined period. I will continue to collect information and speak with various medical experts and be prepared to provide the information to the chairman and commissioners on March 25.”
UFC president Dana White has come under fire since announcing that the company planned to soldier on with empty arena shows including today’s event and next Saturday’s show in London, England, which White said would “proceed as planned” with fans in attendance. That decision was made despite the majority of the sports world shutting down as it deals with the worldwide coronavirus epidemic and the UFC not clearly announcing any plan to test their athletes for the COVID-19 virus.
While UFC fighters from the U.S. arrive in London, there are major questions surrounding the updated travel ban U.S. President Donald Trump announced Saturday which now includes the United Kingdom. Additionally, the UK government is set to announce mass gathering bans which would prohibit fans from entering the O2 Arena. It’s unclear if the event would be allowed to go on with an empty arena.