Since the coronavirus sent the live sports world on hiatus, UFC will be the first major organization to stage a professional sports event in the United States. UFC President Dana White reportedly did not want to stop the sport to begin with.
“I wanted to keep right on going; we’ll figure this thing out. If this thing is that deadly, it’s gonna get us no matter where we hide or what we do.”
White rented a private island in April 2020. He plans to begin putting on live fights by the end of June. White wants to fly in international mixed martial artists from around the globe, however, fighters may have difficulties securing visas.
White could stage bouts from “Fight Island” for the remainder of the pandemic and beyond, said White.
The MMA fighters White oversees share his attitude, as a matter of fact, there will be a fight on Saturday night May 16.
The fight will not be on Fight Island because it is under construction. The bout will take place in Jacksonville, Florida. The headline fight will be lightweights Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson.
Neither man seems phased by the threat of the coronavirus.
Gaethje said, “I hope he breaks my nose, I’ve been waiting to get it fixed. Maybe he’ll plant an elbow on there.”
The road to return for UFC has had a false start. The organization was supposed to return on April 18 on Native American tribal land in California, however, due to objections from top state officials and television partners, the card did not happen.
White has only seen the new obstacles, fan-free arenas, self-isolation, coronavirus testing, and social distancing, as challenges.
Following UFC 249, White stated, “I knew we could do this. I knew we could figure it out. Even with all the hurdles that we had early on, this has been fun. It’s been challenging and it’s been fun.
“I know that sounds a little demented to say I’ve had fun going thought this. It’s been challenging and I’ve enjoyed the whole game of it, if you will.”
The UFC created a 25-page document that addresses health and safety protocols. These protocols include disinfecting the octagon between fights, additionally, tests and masks will be mandated for everyone in attendance.
Concern for the coronavirus only grew when fighter Jacaré Souza tested positive for COVID-19 along with two of his cornermen the day before a stacked card.
Souza was pulled from the bout and the hotel.
By Jeanette Vietti
The New York Times: Why America Loves U.F.C., the First Sport to Return
Bangor Daily News: UFC’s return could provide blueprint for other pro leagues
Image Courtesy of Jamison Hiner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License