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Here’s a coronavirus conversation about MMA and UFC 249 - Pt. 1

Michael Fiedel interview, part one

Michael Fiedel is deputy editor of and a staff contributor for Flo Combat. I recently sat down with Fiedel via Skype to discuss the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and how the pandemic has changed the landscape of mixed martial arts (MMA) as we know it. I started by asking Fiedel how coronavirus has impacted his work as a journalist.

“From a MMA perspective it’s freed me up to be able to write a lot, which normally would be terrific, but with the pandemic in full swing there’s no events to write about. So it’s really forced me as both an individual writer and also a deputy editor of a site to make unique and creative content decisions. It’s allowed us to switch our focus to certain things that we might otherwise not get to touch because of the full steam ahead approach of MMA. Of course there’s no off season (in MMA).”

We’re all getting one now whether we wanted it or not. So how has the novel coronavirus led to Fiedel taking a novel approach to MMA coverage?

“If you have a project that doesn’t fit neatly into a box, that might not be something that you get to touch during a majority of the time in MMA. However now with a lot of downtime we’re able to explore a lot of those individual projects. But yes of course the biggest thing is without any events to cover, you’re forced to get creative.”

Unsurprisingly that’s why I reached out to Fiedel to have this conversation. There’s still a lot going on in MMA even without events scheduled though, such as Dana White’s insistence that UFC 249 will still take place on April 18th as scheduled.

“We know this fight has been canceled four times already. Nobody wants to see a fifth cancellation, nobody wants that to happen, least of all the media who would be writing about it, generating ad revenue for the stories they produce, and finding new story lines for a fight that seemingly gets a new one every time they put it together.”

I’ve long considered Tony Ferguson the best and most likely candidate to finally hand Khabib Nurmagomedov his first loss, but is the desire to see “El Cucuy” be the first to dethrone “The Eagle” reason enough to go forward?

“No one wants this fight to happen more than us! BUT, when you have a global pandemic going on, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of governments all around the country let alone the globe saying that nothing should be going on like an event, and when every other sporting league postpones their seasons or suspends the end of the season outright, like the NBA, XFL, NHL, PGA Tour, et cetera et cetera are all saying that events shouldn’t be going on, it feels just a little dirty to have an event being talked about in MMA. It makes MMA feel like the ugly stepchild again.”

At this point though it seems increasingly unlikely Ferguson and Nurmagomedov will fight.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in our conversation about the responsibility of promoters and fighters to use common sense and follow health and safety guidelines during this global pandemic.

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