Bellator president Scott Coker is worried about the UFC’s relentless desire to get events back up and running amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With Bellator having already postponed events from March to June, and a tentative plan to return no earlier than July, Coker strongly believes enormous cautious needs to be taken by anyone attempting to run live events in the current landscape.
The UFC has led the charge on that front, with the promotion currently planning a return with UFC 249 on May 9 in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as shows on May 13 and May 16. No other major sports have figured out a way to make events happen, but UFC president Dana White is keen to be the first and is taking excessive measures.
Coker hopes those measures are enough, because he said even a slight error could prove catastrophic to the industry as a whole.
“That’s pretty ambitious,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “I don’t know what’s their protocol. That’s the one thing I would say: Let’s all be sensible because at the end of the day, if you don’t figure it out and you don’t have all the answers, there could be something bad that happens. And then everybody is backtracking, everybody is going to be in a defensive position, and it’s going to affect everybody. Not just them, but us as well.”
The UFC already has attempted to go forward with one event during the coronavirus pandemic on April 18 in California. However, the plug was pulled 10 days prior when broadcast partner Disney and ESPN, at the influence of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Now the UFC attempts to go on with another show in 15 days, and Coker can only hope it doesn’t backfire.
“If it was a situation where the communication was – if I was talking to (UFC vice president of regulatory affairs) Marc Ratner, I would just say, ‘Hey, Marc. Be careful, man, because this is a very serious situation. Make sure everything gets done properly because we don’t want to have something bad happen in this sport,’” Coker said.