The Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to carry a pay-per-view occasion on tribal land in Central California this month, an tried finish run round widespread federal and state pointers in opposition to holding giant gatherings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, in keeping with three individuals aware of the choice.
Even as most sporting occasions have floor to a halt worldwide due to the extremely contagious virus, Dana White, the U.F.C. president, has insisted he can safely maintain mixed-martial arts occasions.
“This place where this fight is going to be on April 18 I have locked up for two months, so I’m going to continue to pump fights out,” White told ESPN on Monday, although he declined to say precisely the place.
The location would be the Tachi Palace Casino Resort outdoors Lemoore, Calif., about 40 miles south of Fresno, in keeping with the individuals, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of White had not introduced the venue. The on line casino, which closed the night of March 20 due to the pandemic, is on land belonging to the Tachi-Yokut Tribe, a part of the federally acknowledged Santa Rosa Indian Community.
A consultant of the Tachi Palace Casino Resort couldn’t instantly be reached for remark, and the U.F.C. didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. The location was first reported by Jeff Sherwood, an independent M.M.A. reporter.
The U.F.C. postponed three occasions in March and April as stay-at-home orders turned more and more widespread and states started requiring nonessential staff to remain residence. Nevada, the place the U.F.C. relies, is below a statewide stay-at-home order till a minimum of April 30 — it has even shut down even the Las Vegas casino industry.
By holding the occasion on tribal land, the U.F.C. shouldn’t be topic to California’s government order mandating that folks keep at residence. The fights on the cardboard additionally don’t should be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, which usually regulates combined martial arts occasions within the state. The fee has canceled all fights by means of May 31.
“The commission echoes the guidance of California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Department of Public Health, local health officials, and the recommendations of the Association of Ringside Physicians regarding the cancellation of events where people may be at risk of contracting Covid-19 and encourages the industry to do the same,” the California athletic fee mentioned in an announcement. “The commission will not participate in the U.F.C. event on April 18, regardless of the event location.”
U.F.C. 249 was initially scheduled to be held on April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and to be headlined by a light-weight championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson — one of many U.F.C.’s most anticipated matchups in years. But after Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York restricted mass gatherings and the New York State Athletic Commission announced it wouldn’t authorize the event, White mentioned the U.F.C. would go ahead at a special location.
On Monday, White mentioned that Nurmagomedov, now at residence in Dagestan, Russia, was out of the combat and would get replaced by Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been scheduled to combat one another 5 instances since 2015, however every plan fell aside due to damage, sickness and now the pandemic.
To e book any fights involving athletes who can not journey to the United States, White has said he secured an island however has not disclosed the place.
The April 18 pay-per-view occasion shall be bought by ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service, and the preliminary card shall be scheduled for one among ESPN’s cable channels. An ESPN spokeswoman declined to touch upon Tuesday.