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New Florida order opens the door for potential UFC events in the state during global pandemic

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Dana White will address questions from the media at the UFC 205 press conference Tuesday.
Dana White will address questions from the media at the UFC 205 press conference Tuesday.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If the UFC wants to begin promoting shows sooner rather than later, Florida might be the perfect landing spot.

A new order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis’ office could allow combat sports events to move forward in the state so long as the shows are held behind closed doors without an audience in attendance.

The rule was initially reported by ESPN in relation to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) being allowed to hold live shows in Florida at their Performance Center in Orlando. While WWE had been pre-taping programs in the state, the professional wrestling promotion went live on Monday night with “Raw,” which was held without an audience in attendance.

The new order approves a list of “essential services” including “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”

In a follow up e-mail, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation confirmed to MMA Fighting that they would be ready to regulate a show in the state so long as promotions adhere to the guidelines laid out by the governor’s office.

“The [Florida State Boxing Commission] is prepared to regulate a professional sports production that is planned and executed in accordance with the conditions of the essential service approvals issued by the State Coordinating Officer,” commission officials said in the statement.

The UFC had initially planned to move forward with shows starting on April 18 with UFC 249, but the event was postponed after their broadcast partner at ESPN asked the company to “stand down.”

Ultimately, the UFC complied with ESPN’s request while postponing all upcoming shows indefinitely. The delay didn’t stop UFC president Dana White from planning to promote cards on his own personal “Fight Island” — a private island where he’s currently building an infrastructure where live fights can be held.

Now it appears the UFC has another option available to them with Florida as a possible landing spot for upcoming shows.