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UFC to hold coronavirus information sessions for fighters

Etihad Stadium at UFC 193
Etihad Stadium at UFC 193 by Esther Lin/
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC is holding a pair of informational sessions to address fighters’ concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry leader will hold two video chats this Friday and Monday, April 20 to detail its response to the pandemic and plans for the future, according to a copy of the e-mail sent to several athletes on the roster that was obtained by MMA Fighting. ESPN first brought word of the meetings.

Here’s the e-mail:

UFC Athletes,

We are going through an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to communicate with you first about upcoming events for the remainder of the year as well as help answer any questions you might have about training, fights, health, safety and more.

Please join UFC President, Dana White, for a WebEx meeting where he will discuss all of the relevant information. WebEx sessions will be available starting on Friday, April 17th at 2:30pm PT/5:30 pm ET and Monday, April 20th at 10:00am PT/1:00pm ET and 5pm PT/8pm ET. Athletes are asked to join (1) informational session and translators will be provided.

The notice also instructs fighters that managers and other “outside parties” are not allowed to attend the meetings.

As previously reported, the promotion plans to reboot its live event schedule on May 9 with a stacked pay-per-view event at a location that’s being kept secret. UFC President Dana White also recently told Variety that the promotion plans to promote events at its APEX Center in Las Vegas starting next month, though Nevada State Athletic Commission has yet to lift a moratorium on the regulation of combat sports.

Confusion and speculation has been widespread since the promotion postponed a quartet of events, culminating with the banner UFC 249 pay-per-view that was called off after political pressure prompted the promotion’s broadcast partner ESPN to request a postponement.

Several fighters from the postponed cards have been left in the dark about whether they will be compensated for their scratched fights and whether they’ll be rebooked for future fights. MMA Fighting has verified that at least eight fighters from the ill-fated cards – which include UFC London, UFC Columbus, UFC Portland and UFC 249 – have not received compensation and remain in the dark about the promotion’s plans, though five from the London card say they have either received or been assured they’ll soon be paid.

In several interviews, White has tried to assure fighters that they won’t be left in the lurch by the postponements and asked anyone who was struggling due to the coronavirus to reach out to him directly. Several fighters MMA Fighting spoke to said they hadn’t reached out and were unaware of anyone who had taken up the executive.

The UFC is just one of several major sporting leagues that face severe economic challenges due to the loss of revenue from live events. Recently, combat sports promotions got some good news when Florida’s governor opened the door to holding closed-door events in the state, and President Donald Trump has pushed for a plan to restart sporting events as de-facto TV shows, allowing leagues to collect right fees that could help keep them afloat during the shutdown.

The UFC’s chief competitor, Bellator, will not promote events until it can ensure the safety of staff and competitors, promotion president Scott Coker told MMA Fighting.

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