An MMA boss is paying fighters not to fight in the coronavirus era and wants to change the game with tech innovations when his sport returns for good.
It is a stark contrast to how the majority of combat sports businesses are trying to operate in the middle of a pandemic.
Take the UFC, for example, which restarted its fight calendar on May 9 at a behind-closed-doors venue in Jacksonville, Florida, in an eerily-empty 15,000 capacity arena. The UFC had to administer 1,200 coronavirus tests to approximately 3,000 people over fight week — with three people testing positive for the disease.
Though the UFC was first, it is by no means alone.
- Bellator MMA will use an audience-free soundstage in Hollywood to restart its combat events in the coming months
- Showtime Boxing, a ViacomCBS property like Bellator, could use the same studio
- Top Rank boxing aims to return in June
- Boxing in Britain could proceed behind-closed doors by July
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is an outlier in all of this as the PFL, which operates with a traditional American sports season as opposed to a ranking, canceled its entire 2020 campaign.
Co-founder and chairman Donn Davis told Insider last week that the PFL did so to ensure its athletes from 25 countries do not have to travel or train while the novel coronavirus continues to spread through cities.