“The show must go on,” reads the message posted by the Ultimate Fighting Championship on its social media accounts Sunday morning (Mar 15 AEDT), moments prior to the UFC Fight Night 170 kick off. MMA event is broadcast on both, ESPN and ESPN Plus, from an empty Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil, in accordance with the ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, due to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Only fighters, trainers, officials, doctors and essential personnel is in attendance.
The promotion also shared “A look in at UFC Brasilia”. A short video gives an overview of an over 24-thousand seat venue, with no public in present.
— UFC (@ufc) March 14, 2020
Nevertheless, while arguably all other major sports leagues cancelled or postponed their events scheduled for the next few weeks, UFC athletes want to fight.
“Everybody is panicking, 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,” UFC President Dana White told ESPN, after his meeting with the US President Donald Trump.
“They want to fight, they want to compete,” White said. “We’re gonna do everything we can to keep them safe.”
Two scheduled UFC Fight Nights have been moved from Columbus and Portland to Las Vegas.