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Black Masks & Ring Girls: M-1 Global hosts MMA event in Belarus amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The promotion went ahead with the first of four scheduled events for the month of April on Wednesday, April 15. 

On Wednesday, April 15, M-1 Global hosted an MMA event in Minks, Belarus.

Dubbed ‘Black Square Heroes,’ the event took place within an empty arena in the Belarusian capital city and featured eight bouts with an international cast of fighters ranging from local Belarusian talent to Kazakh, Uzbek and Tajik fighters.

The main event saw Belarusian middleweight Denis Maher defeat Valijon Serdarov by front choke in the opening minutes of their bout, while the co-main event saw Vladislav Novitzky defeat Maxim Rzheusky by first-round armbar.

According to M-1 Global, the event took place under the “most stringent conditions as determined by trained medical doctors.” They also claimed that all fighters and staff were “tested and monitored for COVID-19 by trained medical professionals.”

Beyond testing capacity, M-1 also mandated that its staff wear black masks throughout the duration of the event, including its medical professionals, announcers, cornermen, and even the ring card girls.

M-1’s decision to hold the event in Belarus is likely due to the former Soviet Republic’s refusal to impose restrictions on public life. Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko remains defiant in the wake of the global health crisis and insists that concerns over COVID-19 are a product of “mass psychosis.”

Lukashenko has since suggested that vodka and saunas would serve as cures for COVID-19 and continues to allow sports to take place with spectators in the crowds.

”There are no viruses here. Did you see any flying around? I don’t see them either,” Lukashenko told a TV reporter while playing hockey in early April. “It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”

Belarus currently has 4204 confirmed cases with 40 deaths.

M-1 Global is scheduled to hold three more events in April, including two shows in Belarus, the last of which is being held on April 25th.