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UFC plans to keep staging MMA shows, looks for new venues to host fight cards

Dana White, president of the UFC, speaks at a news conference after the UFC 229 mixed martial arts event in Las Vegas on October 6, 2018. UFC president Dana White says the UFC will continue staging fights despite the COVID-19 outbreak. "Unless there's a total shutdown of the country, where people can't leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen," White told ESPN's SportsCenter on Saturday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, John Locher
March 15, 2020 - 8:07 AM

LAS VEGAS - UFC president Dana White says the UFC will continue staging fights despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Unless there's a total shutdown of the country, where people can't leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen," White told ESPN's SportsCenter on Saturday night.

The mixed martial arts promotion held a Fight Night card Saturday in Brazil but without spectators. The televised card, which featured Canadians John (The Bull Makdessi) and Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos, was held behind closed doors in the capital of Brasilia following a local decree suspending all events with more than 100 people in the attendance.

The UFC previously announced it was shifting future cards from Columbus, Ohio, and Portland to the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas due to local authorities' restrictions on crowds in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. But it has been forced to look elsewhere after the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted to suspended all combat sports events in the state until March 25.

"We're working to find new locations but the fights will go on. They will continue. We're not stopping. We will keep finding a way to put on the fights," White said.

Alberta heavyweight Tanner (The Bulldozer) Boser is on the March 28 card, originally slated for Columbus. The main event features France's Francis (The Predator) Ngannou, ranked second among heavyweight contenders, and No. 6 Jairzinho (Bigi Boy) Rozenstruik of Suriname.

Victoria welterweight Tristan (Boondock) Connelly is on the April 11 show originally scheduled for Portland. The main event features Alistair (The Demolition Man) Overeem, ranked No. 8 among heavyweight contenders, and No. 9 Walter (The Big Ticket) Harris.

A March 21 Fight Night card scheduled for London — with former welterweight champion Tyron (The Chosen One) Woodley facing No. 4 contender Leon (Rocky) Edwards in the main event — will be moved because of travel restriction.

"So the fight obviously can't continue in London but the fight will go on. We're working on find a new venue, likely in the United States," said White.

White also said that UFC 249, a high-profile card featuring lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov against No 1 contender against Tony Ferguson, will also go on at a yet-to-be-announced venue. The card was originally slated for April 18 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The fan are all freaking about that. Don't worry. Khabib versus Tony will happen," said White.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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