This Saturday’s UFC Brasilia card has been closed to the public, meaning the fighters on the bill will compete in an arena completely devoid of fans. This is an experience a number of ONE Championship fighters are already familiar with.
Late last month, amid growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, ONE Championship elected to convert its ONE: King of the Jungle card to a closed-door event—just as the UFC has decided to do with the UFC Brasilia card.
BJPENN.COM reached out to a few fighters who competed on the ONE: King of the Jungle card to learn what it was like to compete in an empty arena and forecast what the stars of UFC Brasilia are in for.
“It was definitely different without the energy of the crowd there, especially when I was walking out to the Circle. I also love interacting with the crowd after the events as well. But once I was in the Circle, my focus was on the fight, so not having the crowd didn’t affect me during the fight. I heard my corner very clearly, which is a positive from that experience. It would’ve been nice to have the crowd to share my experience live, but I know they were still able to enjoy it on TV.”
Troy Worthen: ONE Championship bantamweight – Defeated Mark Abelardo by decision on the ONE: King of the Jungle undercard
“It was definitely a different experience for me. All the backstage stuff and the warmups are pretty much the same, it doesn’t really hit you until they announce your name and you begin your entrance to the cage. I’ve become accustomed to that huge reception of thousands of people and feed off that energy, but it just feels kind of flat when you enter an empty arena.
“Once the rounds start it hits you again that you’re in an empty arena because you can hear instructions echoing throughout the building from both corners and the commentators speaking about your fight while you’re in it. For me though, I don’t think it effects performance at all. Fighters at this level should be able to focus and compete the same regardless of the audience. It’s definitely not my favorite thing and I prefer to perform for an audience, but at the end of the day I am just grateful that I was given the opportunity to compete.”
Jeff Chan: ONE Championship bantamweight – Defeated Radeem Rahman by submission the ONE: King of the Jungle undercard
“I found it put less pressure on me because I heard my opponent was Singapore’s first pro MMA fighter and they wanted him to win, so I’m making the assumption that If there was any booing, I didn’t have to hear it! Just cameras watching, which I’m very use to being filmed. Just like a regular sparring session, I’d say.”
Having read the comments of these ONE Championship fighters, how do you think the stars of UFC Brasilia will find the experience of fighting in an empty arena?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/12/2020.