UFC bantamweight Anderson dos Santos joined dozens of martial arts practitioners protesting in front of the Legislative Assembly of Sao Paulo to ask for the state to re-open gyms despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Sao Paulo, a city of 12.8 million people, has seen 1,345 of 3,313 of the deaths related to COVID-19 in Brazil (40.6 percent) and 16,740 of the 49,492 confirmed cases (33.8 percent) as of Thursday. On the same day, as 407 people lost their battle against coronavirus in Brazil, a new record in the country, almost 100 fighters and trainers requested governor Joao Doria to allow gyms to open.

The governor recently announced that the economy will begin to re-open slowly starting on May 11. But gyms are not included among the activities that will receive the green light, and protesters asked to be among the first groups of permitted activities.

According to “Berinja” dos Santos, coaches, fighters and MMA promoters discussed the idea on a WhatsApp group this past week and decided to organize the protest to shed light on the matter after “many gyms declared bankruptcy” and fighters couldn’t teach private classes to make ends meet.

“We sell health and sports in the gym, and it’s important that people continue practicing physical activities, and trainers and gym owners can keep their businesses alive,” dos Santos told MMA Fighting.

Dos Santos (20-8) doesn’t own a gym in Sao Paulo, but he teaches private classes. He’s fought twice under the UFC banner, losing to Nad Narimani and Andre Ewell.

MMA and martial arts don’t lend themselves to social distancing, so “Berinja” proposes that gyms re-open with fewer students per class.

“We know we can’t have a gym with 10, 15, 20 training at the same time at the moment,” he said. “But we can [be flexible] a little bit and have two or three students per class. We know it’s too much to ask for wrestling, MMA, and jiu-jitsu classes for now, because there’s too much physical contact. But boxing classes, muay thai, hitting pads, it’s doable. That’s what we’re asking.”



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