If you’re a UFC fan living during this strange time in American sports history, you’re probably wondering what you’re supposed to do with all this extra time on your hands and whether your favorite combat sports promotional outfit is going to be able to help you figure that out.
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the UFC’s big and bold plan to get its fight schedule back on track this year as soon as possible.
Unless otherwise noted, all information below was originally reported by MMA Junkie. As noted in that report by journalist Nolan King, UFC president Dana White fielded questions Friday from UFC fighters about his company’s plans to keep churning out fights in the wake of the worldwide pandemic.
Here are the most important parts of what he had to say per that report.
UFC Is Planning Super Busy Schedule Starting May 9
Last week, White revealed to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the UFC would be the first major sports organization to return to a normal schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, White said he was already planning a huge pay-per-view event on May 9.
On his call with fighters last week, White confirmed the UFC would begin producing fights again weekly beginning on May 9. While not yet officially announced, it does appear the UFC’s next big PPV event will be headlined by Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje on that date. Additionally, that massive fight card includes a slew of other noteworthy matchups, and the UFC plans to produce lots more action for the remainder of the year.
UFC Fighters Will Only Participate If They Want To
White also reiterated on the call that fighters would only compete during this period if they wanted to do so. In other words, those who don’t feel safe training or competing in UFC events during the global COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t feel compelled by the company to do so.
Locations for Upcoming Events Are Still Being Kept Secret
The UFC isn’t planning on releasing information about where its upcoming events are going to be held, at least until the last possible moment.
The UFC is planning to meet with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in the coming weeks about getting the UFC Performance Institute and UFC Apex running again as soon as possible.
Additionally, recent reports have suggested that the UFC is planning to use its UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas for weekly fights between U.S.-based athletes and it’s secretive “Fight Island” plan for international events.
However, per MMA Junkie’s report, White told UFC fighters on the call last week some U.S. fighters “might” still be able to fight on “Fight Island”.
Regardless, it appears UFC decision-makers have various ideas about how it can start its schedule again on May 9 and keep it running week-over-week for the foreseeable future.
Follow the Heavy on UFC Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Fighters with Previously Canceled Fights Will Get First Opportunities
Fighters who suffered previous cancellations during the pandemic are getting first dibs on the new dates. That means the athletes previously scheduled to compete at events in London (Mar. 16), Columbus, Ohio (Mar. 28), Portland, Ore. (Apr. 11), and Brooklyn, N.Y. (Apr. 18), are set to be offered fights first.
UFC Prefers Divisional Matchups Over Catchweight Fights
The UFC is hoping to be able to make relevant divisional matchups happen over catchweight fights between athletes from two different divisions. While White conceded he had originally considered allowing catchweight fights due to fighters’ limited resources during the pandemic, he ultimately decided he doesn’t like the idea because those fights usually have less meaning.
Regardless, that probably doesn’t mean catchweight fights are off the table entirely. Rather, the UFC is likely to look at all other options first.
Number of Cornermen Allowed Will Likely Be Limited
The UFC will likely have to limit the number of people at the event due to established social distancing protocols from top health officials, so corners probably won’t look the same on fight night. In fact, the normal amount of cornermen allowed for each UFC fighter would probably need to be cut down. That means fighters are going to have some tough decisions to make about who they bring with them on fight night.
READ NEXT: Ronda Rousey Rips WWE Fans and Wrestlers