California cancels all combat sports through May, including UFC and Bellator events

The California State Athletic Commission, as first reported by ESPN, has canceled all combat sports events in its state through the end of May.

Under guidance of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the move was a proactive measure to help inhibit the spread of the covid-19 virus that has the world dealing with a global pandemic.

“The Commission didn’t take this decision lightly and understands the potential economic loss to promoters and the industry of combative sports. We had to weigh the best interest of our fighters and the community around us,” the CSAC statement said.

The UFC has already postponed at least three events, though company president Dana White has insisted on trying to move forward with UFC 249 on April 18. He has yet to name a location or a new main event now that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to remain in place in his home country of Russia.

The UFC had one date slated for California in May. UFC on ESPN+ 33 was slated for May 16 at Pechanga Arena with a main event featuring lightweights Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. That event, at minimum, will have to move locations or be rescheduled for a later date.

In addition to the UFC, Bellator MMA had also been slated for two events in California in May. 

Bellator 242 was set to feature dual-division champion Ryan Bader defend his light heavyweight strap against Vadim Nemkov on May 9 in San Jose. Former UFC contender Liz Carmouche was expected to make her promotion debut opposite Mandy Böhm in the Bellator 243 headliner on May 29, at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula.


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Bellator had already announced that it was cancelling its May events prior to the release from the California State Athletic Commission.

Most other fight promotions around the globe have canceled all events through at least April, if not May.

California State Athletic Commission statement cancelling Combat Sports events through May:

Based on guidance issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to protect Californians against the possible spread of COVID-19, the California State Athletic Commission is canceling events through the end of May 2020. The Commission didn’t take this decision lightly and understands the potential economic loss to promoters and the industry of combative sports. We had to weigh the best interest of our fighters and the community around us.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued guidance that certain types of gatherings be postponed or canceled to protect public health and slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission. The recommendation applies to all nonessential professional, social, and community gatherings. Additional information about COVID-19 is available online from CDPH and from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).