The Bellator 241 fight card had been scheduled to take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut last Friday and was supposed to be a night where Bellator’s Featherweight World Grand Prix continued on with two fights, including champion Patricio Pitbull vs Pedro Carvalho with the title on the line, but those plans came to a sudden halt.
Early Friday afternoon after weigh-ins had been conducted the day before, Bellator President Scott Coker released a statement announcing that the event was being cancelled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic taking place all over the world.
While it was by no means an easy decision for Coker and Bellator to cancel on the day of the fight after they had already decided the event would go on without fans, it seemed to be the most logical decision. On Monday, Coker was a guest on The Luke Thomas Show and gave his reasoning for shutting down the event.
“Basically it was one thing in my mind was, is my staff, is my fighters, is my production crew, are we putting our people in harm’s way? And I just couldn’t come to an answer for that. I believe that we made the right call because, who really knows? I wasn’t sure of the situation, rumors start flying around, and at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel comfortable. Some of my staff members didn’t feel comfortable, some of the production crew didn’t feel comfortable, so after a while you’re like look, this is not going to be an event that we are going to want to promote and feel good about promoting.”
Scott Coker would go on to admit that it became a mad scramble after deciding to cancel just hours before the event was schedule to begin.
“You’re talking about hours away from the first fight, everybody’s there. Then it was a matter of scrambling and trying to get everybody out of there because if there was a ban on flights, we need to get everybody to the airport and try to get them back into the city. We had people from out of the country that couldn’t fly after Monday and we just felt the need that we had to get these guys out of there. I think it’s a time where people should be at home with their families, hunkering down, and getting ready for whatever news comes next.”
With Viacom (Paramount Network) and DAZN serving as broadcast partners for Bellator, Coker said the discussions about the decision to shut down went very smoothly and all sides understood.
“Honestly it was really saying we’re shutting it down. It wasn’t a matter of negotiations with our broadcast partner and they were supportive and really, really good about it. We said we’ll pick it up another day.”
Having to make the tough decision to cancel the event also brought questions about the fighters being paid, and as Coker detailed to Luke Thomas, pretty much everyone around Bellator 241, got their paycheck.
“Listen, we paid the fighters and we paid the staff, and we paid all the contract workers. Think about this, for these fighters, this is probably their last paycheck they’ll have for the next four or five months because who knows how long it’s going to take to this part and we felt that was the right thing to do. Any deficit that puts into us, we’re going to make that up before the end of the year, we’re going to be fine, and we’ll have plenty of time, and hopefully in the summer or fall we’ll make these events up.”
Big respect to Scott Coker and Bellator MMA for taking care of their fighters and all staff surrounding Bellator 241 and the abrupt cancellation.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/16/2020