UFC Columbus card could be impacted by coronavirus

Francis Ngannou, ufc rankings, coronavirus
Image via @ufc on Instagram

On Wednesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine laid out new rules “in regard to mass gatherings in Ohio.” These rules immediately stand out as a problem for the upcoming UFC Columbus event.

Shortly, we will be issuing rules in regard to mass gatherings in Ohio,” DeWine announced on Twitter. “Every expert has told us that there is a risk in any kind of mass gathering – the closer you are to other people, the bigger the risk. You must ask yourself if going to a large gathering is necessary.

“At a minimum, what we said yesterday about mass gatherings will become an order.”

Speaking to to MMA Junkie on Tuesday, Ohio Athletic Commission executive director Bernie Profato issued the following statement on the Governor’s ruling potential jeopardizing the UFC Columbus card:

“Any issues will go through the Governor’s office and will be enforced by the Athletic Commission. We have not (sat) down with the UFC to discuss any alternatives yet.”

It’s unclear if this statement still rings true after DeWine’s newest announcement.

So far, a long list of high profile MMA shows have been postponed and cancelled amid growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, including events from ONE Championship, ARES Fighting Championship, and most recently, KSW.

At present, no UFC events have been cancelled, but the UFC Columbus card could easily be the first.

Speaking ahead of last weekend’s UFC 248 card, UFC President Dana White discussed the UFC’s preparations for coronavirus-related issues.

“Everybody is fighting with the coronavirus,” White said. “This thing started as a Chinese problem and it’s turned into a global problem. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out through the rest of this year. This isn’t really a Chinese problem, it’s a global problem.

“We all should [have plans],” White added. “This is a serious problem. We’re already working. We’re looking at how this will affect our business this year, and how we battle this thing moving forward. We’re already working on this. We’ve been working on this [since] a month and a half ago.”

If it actually happens, UFC Columbus will be headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Stay tuned for further updates on the event as details emerge.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/11/2020.