The UFC is considered one of the top MMA promotions on the planet. Traveling all over the world week after week, the Dana White-led promotion has events scheduled to take place in Brazil, London, New York, Oregon and Ohio. The latter location may end up putting the UFC in a tough situation.
With the coronavirus spreading all over the world, world leaders are taking precautions to avoid the spread of it. Italy has cancelled all gatherings while the United States is just starting to implement fan-less sporting events. Ohio’s governor is considering implementing those tactics.
Just in: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has recommended there be NO spectators allowed for indoor sports activities, including high school, college and professional teams
— Matt Wright Fox 8 (@mattwrighttv) March 10, 2020
The UFC heads to Columbus on March 28. Inside the Nationwide Arena, Francis Ngannou will be taking on Jairzinho Rozenstruik. When asked last week about concerns regarding the coronavirus by Marc Raimondi, UFC President Dana White brushed it aside before saying they are looking into it.
For a more in-depth response, UFC VP of Communications Lenee Breckenridge stated the following about the situation:
“As with any UFC event, our top priority is the health and safety of our fans, athletes, and staff,” Breckenridge said, via ESPN. “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.”
When it comes to the actual location (Ohio) where the UFC will call their home for a weekend, MMAJunkie was able to speak to Bernie Profato, the executive director of the Ohio Athletic Commission. While the UFC is separate from the home teams within the region, it would still be taking residency over there.
“Any issues will go through the Governor’s office and will be enforced by the Athletic Commission. We have not (sat) down with the UFC to discuss any alternatives yet.”
Several MMA organizations have had to alter events due to the virus. Just recently, Combate Americas had to reschedule several events within North America, while ONE Championship had to postpone ONE: Heart of Heroes. Ares Fighting Championship also moved its ARES 2 event in Belgium from April to October. KSW became the most recent organization to succumb to the virus, cancelling KWSW 53 in Poland. Bellator and the PFL are also keeping an eye on the virus.
The UFC can move the event. While on short notice, the UFC has done something like this before. When Jon Jones tested positive for a metabolite that was in his blood before prior to UFC 232 (from a previously failed drug test), the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to clear him, forcing the UFC to move the event from the T-Mobile Arena to The Forum in Los Angeles.
With plenty of time left, will the UFC consider moving the event, or will they be OK with an empty arena if Mike DeWine goes through with his idea?