While the UFC is busy preparing a show potentially at its UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas for May 9, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has confirmed that combat sports in the state are off the table “until further notice.” That’s per a new report by MMA Fighting, citing NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett.
In March, faced with the growing spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the commission shut down all combat sports in the state. A March 25 meeting to review the decision was postponed, out of an abundance of caution lest attendees be exposed to the virus. The ban on fisticuffs in Nevada has remained in place ever since.
“We are closed until further notice, and once again the data from the science will determine future events accordingly,” Bennett told the outlet. But he apparently indicated as well, writing to the site via e-mail, that an update could come at the start of May.
“We will see what the data reveals based on the science of COVID-19 and move forward accordingly,” Benett was quoted as saying.
An early-May green light would give the UFC the ability to move forward as planned. Should the NSAC opt to keep the ban in place, Florida has emerged as a potential Plan B. That state recently announced that professional sports leagues would be deemed essential businesses, allowing the WWE, for one, to resume taping shows. Minus an audience, of course.
The UFC has already lost UFC London, UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus, Ohio, UFC Portland, and Brooklyn’s UFC 249 between March and April. That has led to the longest dry period for the promotion in recent memory. A desperate attempt to move the UFC 249 card involved securing the Tachi Palace Casino in California, using native land to make an end run around the state’s mass gathering ban. But when Governor Gavin Newsom put pressure on Disney, who own UFC broadcaster ESPN, the plan was quickly mothballed.
Nevada’s own Governor Steve Sisola has said he intends to resist calls to reopen casinos and other non-essential businesses, which would theoretically include the UFC. “We will reopen when the time is right,” he said Thursday. “It’s not as easy as flipping a switch.” If the NSAC follows his lead, the next UFC event could well take place in Florida, or on Dana White’s fabled Fight Island.