The UFC’s event in Brasilia on Saturday is set to take place without fans in an unprecedented move in response to concerns over the coronavirus.
Brazilian outlet Combate and MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz were first to report that Saturday’s UFC Brasilia event will be taking place behind closed doors. It will be the first UFC event that has been affected since the outbreak of the coronavirus which has caused drastic changes across the world.
Speculation has run rampant since Federal District governor Ibaneis Rocha spoke out that large gatherings of more than 100 people would be banned for several weeks. On Thursday, Rocha reportedly updated his decree to allow events behind closed doors depending on approval from the Federal District’s health surveillance.
UFC President Dana White released a video Thursday addressing the situation, which will see multiple events impacted. He also confirmed on Thursday’s edition of ESPN Sportscenter that UFC Brasilia would take place without fans. UFC London is expected to go forward as planned, while UFC Columbus and Portland are headed to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
— UFC (@ufc) March 13, 2020
Early on Thursday morning, UFC Brasilia headliner Kevin Lee spoke candidly and later went on to express that he was fully prepared to compete without a live audience as well.
I’m good with fighting in an empty arena. Let’s not panic too crazy, let us fight, entertain the people stuck at home. #UFCBrasilia
— Kevin MTP Lee (@MoTownPhenom) March 12, 2020
The event on Saturday is set to feature Lee taking on surging contender Charles Oliveira in a crucial battle for positioning in the lightweight division. Also on the card is a welterweight bout with former title challenger Demian Maia against Gilbert Burns and an exciting striking battle between Johnny Walker and Nikita Krylov.