U.F.C. Says Its Fights Are Back On, Next Month in Florida

Written by on April 24, 2020

The Final Combating Championship plans to carry not less than three occasions in Florida in Could with the blessing of state regulators and elected officers. They’d be the combined martial arts group’s first fights because the widespread shutdown of sports activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.F.C. has scheduled occasions for Could 9, 13 and 16 on the VyStar Veterans Memorial Area in Jacksonville, according to a statement. The primary might be a pay-per-view occasion headlined by a title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, the identical combat that was purported to headline an occasion final weekend in California however was canceled. Lineups for the 2 different occasions weren’t introduced.

Followers received’t be allowed into the world, and the fights might be sanctioned by the Florida State Boxing Fee.

Dana White, the U.F.C. president, has seen his plans to carry fights all through the outbreak stymied by state governments’ stay-at-home mandates for staff deemed nonessential. He went as far as to attempt to hold U.F.C. 249 on tribal land in California with out extensively disclosing its location, however California state officers expressed concerns concerning the plan to Disney and ESPN.

Disney owns ESPN, which pays the U.F.C. lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} yearly to point out its fights. When White referred to as off the occasion, he stated he had acquired calls from “the best stage” at Disney and ESPN asking him to cancel.

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In Florida, nevertheless, the U.F.C. has discovered a welcoming dwelling. Earlier this month, the director of the state’s Division of Emergency Administration amended its checklist of important providers, including “workers at an expert sports activities and media manufacturing with a nationwide viewers.” This has allowed World Wrestling Leisure to hold televised events in the state, and can apparently let the U.F.C. do the identical.

Having the state and native authorities on board, in addition to the state’s boxing fee, has mollified any issues that ESPN — which, with few stay occasions to point out, has seen its viewership fall dramatically — may need had concerning the occasion. “We look ahead to bringing U.F.C. to followers once more,” the community stated in an announcement.

White has insisted he can safely go forward with occasions, however has offered virtually no particulars about how that may be achieved. He has not stated whether or not the U.F.C. has obtained Covid-19 exams, whether or not fighters and different personnel might be examined or quarantined, or what’s going to occur if a fighter does turn into contaminated. When White was requested by ESPN on Friday if the fighters could be examined for the coronavirus, he didn’t straight reply the query.

“We’re going to spend some huge cash to verify the persons are secure,” White said in an interview carried out stay on Instagram. He stated that there was a chance for an additional occasion on Could 23 and that he was nonetheless urgent ahead with a plan to carry bouts on a personal island outdoors the US in June, although he gave no particulars.

The Affiliation of Ringside Physicians has said that each one fight sports activities ought to be paused in the course of the pandemic, and the virus has already affected among the fighters who had been purported to compete final weekend at U.F.C. 249. The welterweight Lyman Good pulled out of the occasion in early April with an unspecified damage, however not too long ago revealed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. And the strawweight Rose Namajunas withdrew earlier than that occasion was canceled, as her supervisor defined that two of her relations had died of points “associated to the coronavirus.”

The twists and turns of the final month, together with White’s hesitancy about revealing sure particulars of an occasion, imply that fighters could also be in for just a few surprises earlier than they attain the octagon. When Ferguson discovered that the California was canceled, the data got here not from the group, however from a reporter in the middle of an interview. And Gaethje discovered he was the headliner for the Could 9 occasion solely when White introduced it to the world.

“Man, it’s very onerous as a fighter to search out out data on the web, however that’s primarily how I discover out every thing,” he told ESPN this week. “Emotionally, as a fighter, it’s very onerous to deal with. It’s onerous to show it on, and it’s onerous to show it off.”


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