Many fans were disappointed to find out the news regarding UFC Fight Night 97 Manila’s cancellation earlier this week.
Following news of our very own BJ Penn having to pull out of the scheduled main event versus Ricardo Lamas due to injury, the UFC announced that the entire card would be rescheduled. While many believed Penn’s injury was the main reason the UFC decided to reschedule the event, the reliable MMA insider @TalkMMA as well as FloSports Jeremy Botter stated that the UFC decided to reschedule the event due to strict drug testing policies being enforced by the Philippine government. Botter stated that not only fighters on the card would be tested, but also UFC affiliated staff such as the production team and employees would be tested. Both @TalkMMA and Botter stated that any failures in drug testing would result in their passports being seized. (h/t Bloody Elbow)
In relation to drugs in the Phillipines, newly elected President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has issued a literal war on drugs and has went as far as to give the ok for civilians to kill known drug users.
“These sons of whores are destroying our children,” Duterte said in June to a crowd in Manila (transcribed by Huffington Post). “I warn you, don’t go into [drug trafficking], even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you,” he said.
“If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful,” Duterte told the crowd.
A week ago, Duterte even went as far as to compare himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said to the media (transcribed by Reuters).
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …,” he said, and then pointed to himself.
“You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 30, 2016
The Philippine commission released the following statement regarding the UFC’s decision to reschedule the event:
We at the Games and Amusement board (GAB) are deeply saddened by the cancellation of the UFC event on October 15 at the MOA arena.
We have received official communication from Mr. David Lewis of the UFC informing us that the event will have to be re-scheduled due to an injury sustained by BJ Penn. We respect this decision of the organizers and will only require them to ensure the reimbursement of patrons who may have already purchased their tickets.
We are equally saddened by the rumors that the cause of the cancellation is the drug testing procedure that GAB requires of all professional athletes. This procedure has been in place through the years for no other purpose than to ensure the safety of unarmed combatants and to preserve the integrity of professional sports in the country.
The insinuations dragging the country’s anti-drugs campaign into this issue are unfair, irresponsible and counter-productive. Third parties should not take this unfortunate cancellation to take a stab at our President’s efforts to cleanse our country of illegal drugs.
We look forward to our continuing relations with the UFC and the MMA world. We are confident that the organizers will clarify this for the benefit of everyone.
The UFC released an official statement regarding UFC Fight Night Manila on Thursday, which can be read here.