UFC, Bellator events still on amid virus outbreak

MMA

The two largest mixed martial arts promotions in the United States, UFC and Bellator, are moving ahead with planned events for now, representatives told ESPN, even as Combate Americas on Monday became the first U.S.-based MMA promotion to cancel an event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

UFC vice president of communications Lenee Breckenridge said the promotion is “proceeding as planned for our upcoming events.”

“As with any UFC event, our top priority is the health and safety of our fans, athletes, and staff,” Breckenridge said in a statement. “We are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our venue partners and medical team, and we are following the recommended guidelines from the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) and the CDC. We also encourage our fans to observe the common sense health precautions suggested by the CDC, such as washing hands frequently and staying home if you are sick.”

The UFC has an event Saturday in Brasilia, Brazil. After that, the UFC goes to London next week; Columbus, Ohio, on March 28; and Portland, Oregon, on April 11. The next big UFC pay-per-view event is UFC 249, scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared Saturday that New York was in a state of emergency. More than 600 people in the United States, including more than 140 people in New York, have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, the influenza strain that originated in Wuhan, China in December.

Bellator has an event Friday night at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. A spokesperson for the promotion said officials “fully anticipate” Bellator 241 to go on as scheduled. Bellator does not have another event after Friday until May 9.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and have been in close contact with our venue partners,” a Bellator statement said.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL), whose season begins May 21, said in a statement that it is “using this time to closely monitor the situation and to prepare for all scenarios. We are consulting health officials as appropriate, and remain in constant communication with our venue partners.”

On Monday, Combate Americas announced it was canceling three March events, with plans to reschedule later in the year. The first was scheduled for this Friday in Tucson, Arizona. Also canceled were events March 20 and March 27 in Mexico City and San Antonio, respectively.

Instead of those live events, Combate Americas said in a news release that it would begin a series of shows in a closed-set television studio starting April 3. The location has not been determined.

“We put the health and safety of our athletes, fans and staff above all other considerations,” Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren said in a statement. “Combate Americas’ mission is to bring together people throughout the U.S., Mexico, South America and Spain, and that requires frequent travel to an array of locations, both foreign and domestic. Our live studio version of Combate Americas will continue to deliver mucha más acción.”

Over the past few days, Ares FC in Belgium and Rise FC in British Columbia, Canada, have both announced they will be canceling their next events. ONE Championship, the biggest MMA promotion in Asia, moved its April 10 event from Chongqing, China, to Jakarta, Indonesia, and held its Feb. 28 event in Singapore in an empty arena with no fans.

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