FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium as the next UFC Fight Night will be held without fans during the fights, after reports of the coronavirus in Brasilia, Brazil, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
March 14, 2020
(Reuters) – Mixed martial arts is one sport bucking the trend of cancellations, saying it plans to stick to its schedule albeit without fans.
As virtually the entire American sports industry, and much of the world’s, shuts down due to coronavirus concerns, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will carry on regardless.
“Everybody is panicking,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN.
“And instead of panicking, we’re actually getting out there and working with doctors and health officials and the government to figure out how we can keep the sport safe and how we can continue to put on events.”
Saturday’s lightweight fight between American Kevin Lee and Brazilian Charles Oliveira in Brasilia will take place with only essential personnel in attendance.
Next Saturday’s welterweight fight between American Tyron Woodley and Briton Leon Edwards at London’s O2 Arena is also still on, though it is unclear whether fans will be allowed.
However, fights that were scheduled for Portland, Oregon on March 28 and Columbus, Ohio on April 11 have been moved to Las Vegas because of regulations in those two states regarding gatherings of large crowds.
Those contests will not have any spectators.
“We’re moving forward with all our UFC live events but we’re going to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances,” White said in a video posted on UFC’s Twitter feed.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)