UFC President Dana White appeared on SportsCenter earlier today, March 16, to announce the promotion’s next three events have been postponed. For the time being, White stated UFC 249 on April 18 is still scheduled to take place.
The postponements occur following President Donald Trump speaking to the nation with an update regarding the coronavirus. President Trump said gatherings should now be limited to no more than 10 people. The new guidelines are in effect for the next 15 days according to the Associated Press.
This number had been 50 people at one point, which allowed UFC events to continue without an audience and only essential personnel. White had said certain events, such as UFC London which was scheduled for this weekend, would go on in-house at the UFC Apex facility.
The plan to move events to Las Vegas changed after a statement from the Nevada Athletic Commission. NAC executive director Bob Bennett released the following statement to ESPN on March 14:
“I’ve been in constant contact with a litany of doctors and medical professionals and am intimately familiar with most professional and amateur sports events being suspended at this point in time for an undetermined period. I will continue to collect information and speak with various medical experts and be prepared to provide the information to the chairman and commissioners on March 25.”
Although the commission won’t reach a final decision until March 25, White has said shows at the Apex facility are no longer an option. UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson is still scheduled to take place of this time, but it is unlikely to take place at its original location of Barclays Center in New York.
The New York Times reported there have been 950 cases and nine deaths in New York state as of March 16. The city is set to close schools, restaurants and bars.
As far as the other major top promotion in MMA is concerned, Bellator MMA’s future events are also up in the air following the postponement of Bellator 241 which had been scheduled for March 13.
“Everything is on hold,” Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAJunkie. “The whole schedule is on hold. I told my staff, ‘Look, guys. Stay home. Enjoy your family. Do the prep work you can do, but I don’t expect to see you in the office anytime soon. I’ll give you a call as things start to develop.’”
The total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 3,487 with 68 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of March 16. As of March 16, the pandemic has resulted in more than 6,500 deaths worldwide according to CNN.