UFC cancels four upcoming shows, says next fight card will be May 9

The UFC has cancelled four upcoming fight cards but says it will stage a show in early May.

The mixed martial arts organization has scrapped televised events April 25 in Lincoln, Neb., May 2 in Oklahoma City and May 16 in San Diego as well as the pay-per-view UFC 250 on May 9 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The UFC cited current state and county restrictions due to COVID-19 for cancelling the U.S. shows. The venue in Brazil has been closed for the installation of a field hospital.

UFC president Dana White told broadcast partner ESPN that he is planning a different event for May 9, at a location to be determined. He has talked of staging future shows at an unidentified offshore venue which he has dubbed Fight Island.

ESPN said the new May 9 show will be UFC 249, which was slated for April 18 but was postponed.

The UFC had hoped to stage UFC 249 on native land at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, Calif. The high-profile card, originally scheduled for Brooklyn, N.Y., was called off April 9 at the behest of ESPN.

California state officials including Gov. Gavin Newsom had reportedly called officials at Disney, ESPN’s parent company, asking that the show not go ahead.

ESPN and the UFC are in the midst of a five-year, US$1.5-billion deal signed in 2018.

The UFC’s last show was a televised card March 14 in Brazil without spectators.

It was forced to postpone cards originally slated for March 21 in London, March 28 in Columbus, Ohio, and April 11 in Portland, Ore. The UFC initially planned to shift them to the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas behind closed doors due to local restrictions on crowds.

But it was forced to look elsewhere after restrictions tightened.

In other MMA news, Bellator has postponed its Bellator 244 scheduled for June 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, citing the global pandemic.

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