The UFC is trying to keep the ball rolling amid a global coronavirus pandemic, but more events could be forced to change dates or locations. UFC 249 is still promised to go down April 18 at an unknown venue, but the following pay-per-view show is still set for Sao Paulo.
The most populous city in the southern hemisphere held eight UFC Fight Night events in the past, and the state has recorded 1,406 of the 3,904 coronavirus cases in Brazil as of Saturday night’s official numbers. That number would be even higher if the government was doing more testing.
Three-quarters of the deaths (86 of 117) caused by the coronavirus in Brazil happened in Sao Paulo, doubling the national death rate to an alarming 6.1 percent in the state.
According to a report from The Intercept, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency informed president Jair Bolsonaro last week they projected more than 5,500 deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak by April 6 while Bolsonaro is on record dismissing the pandemic as a “little flu” and insisting on ending lockdowns.
Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria determined a quarantine through at least April 7, closing parks and all non-essential businesses. Other cities throughout the country are imposing similar quarantine measures, forcing UFC 250 fighters to adapt their training routines for the event.
The UFC is currently monitoring the situation in Sao Paulo, as well as other cities scheduled to host future cards, and will update fans and media on the status of those events in the future, an official told MMA Fighting. Tickets haven’t gone on sale yet.
Nova Uniao is now closed, forcing UFC 250 headliner Jose Aldo to train at home with his wife for his bantamweight title bout with Henry Cejudo. Amanda Nunes, who lives in Florida, also can’t train like she used to for her featherweight title defense versus Felicia Spencer after American Top Team closed its doors.
Ketlen Vieira, a teammate of Aldo in Rio de Janeiro, is also training at her mother’s home in Manaus for her bout with Marion Reneau for the same card. She disagrees with most of her fellow fighters and defends that the company should postpone the event.
“How am I going to fight a super tough opponent if I’m not training, if I’m just doing some light training at home, jumping ropes and doing combinations?” said Vieira, who currently trains with her wife Giu. “That’s not the (right) training for someone who’s going to fight in the UFC, right?”
“Everything changed,” said Bethe Correia, a former 135-pound title contender who is scheduled to meet Pannie Kianzad at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium in six weeks. “Not only for athletes, but everyone in the world is pretty scared. Those who have a fight booked are trying to keep training at a high level while trying to take care of themselves and also deal with the panic of their relatives. My family is very apprehensive.”