While the rest of the sports world shuts down in effort to contain the coronavirus as much as possible, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is saying that the show must go on.
As a result, UFC Fight Night 170 will go on as planned tomorrow night (Sat., Mar. 14, 2020) live on ESPN+ from inside Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil. The fight card will take place behind closed doors after Federal District governor Ibaneis Rocha announced the suspension of all sporting events of more than 100 people until March 16 due to the rapidly growing virus.
While some have bashed UFC for being one of the only sports organizations to keep its doors open during the coronavirus outbreak the promotion is taking all the proper measurements to do so. The fighters themselves have not been tested for the COVID-19 virus leading up to UFC Brasilia, but the commission and UFC have done everything in their power to confirm the health of the athletes.
“What we did was follow teams and athletes closely, alongside the UFC, for possible symptoms, and so far no one has presented any,” CABMMA COO Cristiano Sampaio told MMA Fighting. “There was no suspicion even at the weigh-ins, where fighters would be more weaken with the weight cut. The incubation period goes from five to 14 days, which could still result in a negative test.”
Hosting an event without fans certainly isn’t the most popular decision, but desperate times call for desperate measures. During a week that saw NBA, NHL, MLB and a variety of other professional sports organizations suspend operations, UFC is pushing through the crisis with support from the Brazilian commission, approved physicians, the fighters themselves, and the POTUS.
“We’re taking every measure possible under the current scenario,” Sampaio wrote.
For now, UFC Brasilia will set sail tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. ET live on ESPN+ and feature a main event clash between premier lightweights Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira. “Motown Phenom” missed weight for the 155-pound headliner but the bout will still go on (much like the event).
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 170 fight card below, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 6 p.m. ET.