After stubbornly trying to keep its event schedule intact even through the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC has decided to indefinitely postpone three upcoming fight night events: The March 21 card previously slated for London, the event headlined by Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik on March 28, and the card topped by Alistair Overeem vs. Walt Harris on April 11.
UFC research analyst Michael Carroll first reported the news, sourcing an email sent by UFC President Dana White to company employees. The UFC has also closed its offices and the Performance Institute through at least the end of March.
The full email was obtained by MMAjunkie, and reads as follows:
This has been a crazy couple of weeks.
We’ve been doing everything possible to stick to our live events schedule because the fighters want to fight, our employees want to work, and the fans want to watch our sport.
So many people have reached out over the past few days to say thanks for not canceling our Brasilia event on Saturday. When weird things happen in the world, or when there’s a tragedy, like the October 1 shooting, people want things to get back to normal, and nothing feels more normal than watching sports.
We did everything we could to relocate our next three events– London, Columbus, and Portland. But every day, there are new restrictions put in place on travel and large public gatherings that are making it impossible to stay on schedule. We can’t even hold an event in Vegas, our home town, because there’s a ban on all combat sports events in Nevada until at least March 25.
As you heard me say, I’ve been in the fight game for 20 years, and this is what we do—we find a way to keep our events going no matter what. If fighters miss weight, if fighters get hurt, or if states won’t regulate us, we figure out a way. But this is different. The whole world is being affected right now, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your families.
That’s why we are closing all UFC offices effective immediately, including HQ in Vegas, through at least March 31st, and asking all employees to work from home. The PI will also be closed to all personnel, including athletes, during this time. The next three events– London, Columbus, and Portland—will be postponed. UFC 249 is still scheduled as planned, but the location may change. We’ll keep you posted.
I tell you guys all the time, you are the BEST TO EVER DO IT. It feels shitty now, but WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, and we’ll be TOUGHER, STRONGER, AND MORE BADASS than before.
Right now, the number one priority is to take care of yourselves and your family.
Finally, I want you to know that UFC has your back. If you or any member of your family is showing symptoms of coronavirus and you’re having trouble getting to a doctor, please reach out to me, Lawrence, or Hunter.
There is no word yet on whether any of the fighters who were scheduled to appear on these events will receive any form of compensation. As for UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson, that takes place on April 18th and that remains an unknown. Given the crisis worsening in New York, it’s a near certainty that it will not stay at Barclays Center, and if many states adhere to the CDC’s recommendation of no gatherings of at least 50 people, then this too may end up being postponed.