Florida has outlined new guidelines that could allow the UFC to hold events during the coronavirus pandemic.
In an April 9 memo published by the office of Governor Ron DeSantis, the definition of “essential services” has been expanded to include professional sports. The definition now includes “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”
A spokesperson from DeSantis’ office told ESPN the inclusion of sports was added to the “essential” list: “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.”
Theoretically, this could allow the UFC to host future fight cards in the state, as long as the company complies with rules listed in the memo. The spokesperson told ESPN, “the memo does not specify specific sports, as long as the event location is closed to the general public.”
The Sunshine State has been peddled as a top option for UFC fights in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was suggested as a possible location for UFC 249, but the event was eventually confirmed for Tachi Palace in California before it was canceled altogether. The chiefs at ESPN and Disney intervened by shutting down the event and all future shows until further notice.
“I was ready to go on Saturday, but Disney and ESPN asked me to step down,” said UFC president Dana White.
“The powers that be there asked me to stand down and not do this event next Saturday.”
He added that he, “got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN”.
The UFC president revealed that he is working on hosting future fights from a private island. However, with updates made to Florida’s “essential services”, White could redirect his plans back to the Sunshine State.
What do you think of Florida’s decision to allow professional sports from a closed location? Do you think we could see UFC events in the state in the near future?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/14/2020.