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Combat Night MMA to push through with event in Florida amid coronavirus pandemic

Combat Night Pro 18 will be one of the very few sports events this weekend.

TUF Finale: Cannonier v Roehrick
UFC veteran Nick Roehrick will be part of the fight card.
Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

While just about every other sports organization have been forced to cancel their events due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be one MMA promotion in the US that is still pushing through this weekend. Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida, Combat Night MMA will host their 18th pro event behind closed doors.

Pro-MMA fighter turned promoter Mitchell Chamale, said they had to jump through some hoops to ensure it pushes through. In the end, Chamale says they managed to get approval from the governor’s office and will be licensed and regulated by the Florida State Boxing Commission.

“We had a ton of stuff to do,” Chamale told Bloody Elbow about the precautions and protocols they will be putting in place. “We were trending toward a sold out show with a capacity of 3,000. Now going to have zero fans, so social distancing won’t be an issue.

“We had to eliminate non-essential staff, including ring girls,” he said. “We’re checking temps for everyone entering the building, doing health screening about possible exposure to prevent spreading, and the list goes on.”

Temperatures were taken prior to the weigh ins as well, and will have medical staff from the commission on hand during the event.

While they’ve complied with the government’s health and safety requirements, Chamale is aware that there are still risks involved with asymptomatic people. At the end of the day, he weighed his options and feels that pushing through is a way to help pay the fighters and further their careers.

“We were a week out when everything hit the fan. We did consider postponing it,” Chamale said when asked why he was pushing through on this date. “But honestly, with the way things are, and most shows cancelling all their events for the next six weeks — gyms and most venues are shut down as well — I honestly don’t think there will be a regional show for a minute down here.

“We moved forward due to multiple reasons,” he explained. “Mostly because we had guys that are a fight away from being in the UFC, and multiple guys that need to get paid — some lost their regular job already due to the virus. And I don’t take being responsible for guys to get paid lightly. Not just the fighters, but the people that make the event happen behind the scenes: cage crew, lighting, video, etc.

Chamale also says this is about the community and not profit, as all the proceeds from the event will go to the Josh Samman MMA Foundation, an organization that supports young, up and coming fighters in the area. Samman, a UFC fighter and BE writer who passed away in 2016, was the co-founder of Combat Night MMA.

“Most of my team will be taking a hit over the next 6-8 weeks. Maybe more depending on how this hurts the live event industry,” he said. “At the end of the day, I am a fighter first. I may promote now, but I know what it’s like to be in everyone’s shoes in the industry. I’m glad we are in a position to be able to make the sacrifices needed for the event to happen.

“This is by far the hardest event I’ve ever done out of 120 events we’ve hosted. It’ll all be worth it when it’s said and done though.”

Combat Night 18 will be available as an online PPV starting at 4 p.m. ET. It will be headlined by Lucas Alexander vs Reggie Mack, and will have a co-main event featuring UFC veteran Nick Roehrick and Waylon Quotskuyva.

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