While most of the sports world is shutting down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of this writing has infected 174,090 and killed 6,684, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues to move forward with its live mixed martial arts (MMA) events.
Probably because UFC has yet to have anyone on its roster test positive for the COVID-19, though I guess now would be a good time to mention that 23-year-old NBA star Donovan Mitchell popped for coronavirus without showing any symptoms.
That doesn't seem to bother UFC heavyweight power puncher Francis Ngannou, who insists the promotion is doing everything it can to keep him safe. And he knows the decision makers behind the scenes care about his health because a corporate Email told him so.
“I got a call from (UFC Chief Business Officer) Hunter Campbell yesterday and he was telling me the precautions,” Ngannou told MMA Fighting. “Before that, I got an email from the UFC with all the precautions that we have to take to stay safe. I got a call from Hunter Campbell telling me if ever I feel like something is wrong, just call. Because they have a medical team set up for us. I don’t have to go to a random hospital out there or whatever.”
Ngannou, 33, was previously scheduled to fight fellow Top 10 heavyweight, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in the UFC on ESPN 8 main event; however, the city of Columbus banned live sporting events, sending the March 28 fight card to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I mean in this case, you feel very safe and you know that they care about your health,” Ngannou continued. “As well as they’re going to be there. They’re not sending you somewhere. They’re going to be there, everything together to make sure everything is okay for your health. They’ll put everything together to keep you guys performing no matter what, which is in my opinion a good thing.”
Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) recently voted to revoke all combat sports licenses until March 25, just three days before Ngannou is expected to compete. If the commission votes to extend the temporary ban, UFC will be forced to take its fight card to another location or cancel it altogether.
A scenario that is currently playing out with UFC London.
I can appreciate a fighter who is willing to fight and after all, if Ngannou doesn’t compete, he doesn’t get paid. But watching the UFC circumnavigate every new restriction put in place in hopes of slowing the spread of coronavirus doesn’t scream “safe” to me.