Fresh off an empty arena show in Brazil that was the only game in town for sports fans Saturday, the UFC has decided to fight on. Faced with mass gathering bans in multiple nations due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of UFC events are on the bubble. UFC London is the next show on the chopping block, after U.K. officials announced a mass gathering ban late in the week. Compounding matters are recently implemented travel restrictions.
Now, the promotion has issued a statement regarding the fate of the March 21 card. And that involves moving the show — to parts unknown. London fans, meanwhile, will be eligible for a refund.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 15, 2020
“Due to rapidly changing circumstances in the U.K.,” the promotion wrote on social media, “including recently implemented travel restrictions, UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Edwards, originally scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at the O2 Arena in London, will be relocated.”
“The organization is looking at the available options, including the United States. Additional details will be announced in the coming days.” They went on to state that the promotion hoped to return to London “at the earliest opportunity.”
Options for the UFC to move the card, however, remain slim. After much confusion Saturday, it emerged that the Nevada State Athletic Commission had revoked licenses for combat sports events in the state until March 25. The UFC’s plan moving forward was to host events in their Apex facility in Las Vegas — essentially their own small arena, where Dana White’s Contender Series is filmed. The March 25 date gives UFC on ESPN 8, going down on March 28, just a tiny bit of breathing room, assuming the ban is not extended.
However, London coming a week earlier is a different story. With more and more countries shutting down all non-essential services to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, there’s a real question as to whether the promotion will find anywhere to host the show. And about whether they should even try, at this point.
All that said, Dana White vowed early Sunday morning, speaking to ESPN, that the show would go on no matter what.
Dana White says the UFC fights will continue.
“We’re not stopping. We will keep finding a way to put on the fights.” pic.twitter.com/7ixxpFjTSz
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 15, 2020