After aggressively pushing back on the idea of canceling events in the wake of spreading regulations and concerns during the global coronavirus pandemic, the UFC has pulled the plug on their next three events. The news, first reported by Michael Carroll after an email to UFC employees, comes days after UFC president Dana White told ESPN, "We're not stopping, we will keep finding a way to put on the fights."
UFC will also be officially closing its doors through March 31 at its offices in Las Vegas with employees working from home, according to MMAJunkie.
UFC Fight Night 171 was originally scheduled to take place in London on Saturday and feature Leon Edwards vs. Tyron Woodley in the main event before travel restrictions forced the UFC to change venue. Edwards would not be able to make the trip to the U.S., leaving the UFC scrambling for a replacement and trying to construct an entire undercard on short notice before the event was finally canceled.
UFC on ESPN 8 and UFC Fight Night 172 had both been planned to take place in the UFC's Apex facility on March 28 and April 11, respectively, having been moved from their originally scheduled locations as restrictions were put into place for large gatherings. However, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission revoking any fight licensing through March 25 when they will meet again, those fights were also looking for new locations.
As of now, UFC 249 is planned to go ahead, and with it the highly-anticipated clash between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Although, it may not take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as originally scheduled, according to the email.
This past weekend, the UFC held UFC Fight Night 170 from an empty arena in Brasilia, Brazil. Utilizing an empty arena has also been a trick employed by WWE in recent weeks to keep gathering sizes down while moving ahead with events. However, the number of recommended people to keep gatherings below has dropped from 100 to 50 and the Trump administration suggested keeping gatherings below 10 people on Monday, possibly adding even more complications to attempts to move ahead with future events.