Four events have officially been scratched from the UFC’s schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The promotion on Monday announced the cancelation of a quartet of dates – UFC Lincoln on April 25, UFC Oklahoma City on May 2, UFC 250 on May 9 and UFC San Diego on May 16 – due to government restrictions and closures brought on by the pandemic. Full refunds have been offered to fans who purchased tickets.
The cancelations represent a shift in messaging for the industry-leader. UFC President Dana White used the word “postponed” to describe the scratch of three March events and the April pay-per-view UFC 249.
The latter event, once billed to host a highly anticipated showdown between lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, prompted the promotion to officially hit pause on its event schedule. But it wasn’t long before new event plans were announced. White this past week confirmed a mega-card being assembled for May 9 at a location to be announced, and he said weekly events are expected to take place at the APEX in Las Vegas starting next month.
As of yet, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to lift a stay-at-home order to help curb the virus’ spread, and the state’s athletic commission said there is no timetable for re-opening to regulate combat sports events. But the promotion can do business in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared pro wrestling an “essential business,” opening the door to events regulated by the state’s athletic commission. Nevada, Texas and Florida are said to be under consideration for the May 9 event, which will air on pay-per-view.
UFC Lincoln was slated to feature a light heavyweight headliner between Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira; both recently said they were continuing to train for the bout as if it was on despite the pandemic.
As MMA Fighting previously reported, UFC 250’s original location, Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, was ruled out because the venue had been converted into a hospital for COVID-19 patients.
And after the California State Athletic Commission extended a moratorium on combat sports events through May 31, the UFC’s original plan to hold a May 16 event headlined by Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker was effectively scratched.