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Bellator aims to restart schedule in June or July on Hollywood soundstage

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A Los Angeles soundstage could host live Bellator events starting this summer.

Bellator President Scott Coker told MMA Fighting on Monday the promotion aims to restart its schedule in June or July with live events held on one of the Hollywood studio lots owned by its parent, ViacomCBS. The events will not be open to fans and will be run with less than 50 people, he said.

For now, the promotion awaits new regulatory guidelines on holding live events during the pandemic. Coker expects additional coronavirus testing requirements to be put into place by regulators like the California State Athletic Commission, which recently extended a moratorium on combat sports events until the end of May.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently opened the door to combat sports events by deeming pro wrestling an “essential business.” The Florida State Athletic Commission regulated one closed-door MMA event, Combat Night, during the pandemic by limiting capacity in the arena to 50 people, separating combatants and their camps, taking temperatures prior to the event, and other measures.

Coker said when Bellator gets back to business, he wants to ensure everybody can participate safely.

“We want to be back in there as soon as possible, but we want to do it the right way, and health and safety comes first,” Coker said. “This situation is real, and we’re going to do everything we can to protect our staff, our fighters and our contractors.

“We expect to get back to work and get all those protocols worked out sometime in the next 60 days, and we’re going to get right back to work after that.”

Bellator has been forced to postpone four events due to the pandemic. This past month, the promotion was just hours away from holding Bellator 241 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., when new government guidelines on large gatherings prompted Coker to call off the event. All fighters were compensated for canceled bouts.

Bellator isn’t the only MMA promotion to alter its production plan amid the pandemic, which has shut down major sporting events around the world. The UFC aims to promote weekly closed-door events at its APEX facility in Las Vegas. This past month, Combate Americas recently announced a “proactive plan” to hold an April 3 event on a soundstage. ONE Championship held an event to an empty arena at a show in February.

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