Dana White isn’t the only crazy SOB still trying to put on events during the Coronavirus pandemic. On one side of the irresponsibility spectrum you’ve got K-1 Japan going ahead with last weekend’s K’Festa 3 kickboxing event. 6500 people gathered in the lower bowl of Saitama Super Arena for the show, which featured promos reminding people to wear masks and maintain space for their protection.
On the opposite end of this spectrum is Chael Sonnen and his Submission Underground event. While he’s just as insistent as White that the show must go on, he’s also been way more transparent regarding the extreme lengths he’s gone to comply with state regulations and guidelines. There’s no crowd. Never more than 8 people in the building at once. Everyone stays separated in several motorhomes outside the venue ... right up until it’s time to grapple, of course.
There’s no ignoring the fact that you simply can’t have a grappling event without enough sweaty contact between competitors to coat every participant from tip to toe in COVID shedding fluids. If anyone is carrying the virus, that is. There are 548 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Oregon and who knows how much more of it out in the wild, untested or being carried by asymptomatic people.
So just to be safe, let’s start the event off with a social distancing-inspired elbow bump.
Has a new trend been launched at @ChaelSonnen's Submission Underground 12? Two athletes touch elbows to start the night, live on @UFCFightPass.— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) March 29, 2020
Despite the ongoing pandemic, #SUG12 carries on. Read more: https://t.co/NwJ9AOJUaT pic.twitter.com/0azaGBzD3O
We can only hope that the precautions taken by Sonnen’s team effectively minimized the risk to everyone involved. No one wants to read articles a week or two from now about how SUG12 ended up being a vector like the Olympic Boxing Qualifiers that helped the coronavirus spread through our community. But even with all the extra care taken, it still feels like a crapshoot ... which is why so many of us wimpy MMA bloggers continue to be shocked that any of this is going on at all.
Maybe it’ll be all right. Or maybe everyone that touched a door handle on the way into the grain silo contracts the virus. There’s no way to know, and if people like Dana White were more honest with themselves about how little control they really have when it comes to protecting people from this pandemic, they’d realize the show probably shouldn’t be going on.