The UFC is expecting to be back in business by early May. The promotion has their rescheduled UFC 249 PPV card all set for May 9th in Jacksonville, FL. And while the UFC has been forced to cancel and postpone other, smaller events, it sounds like they still expect to be holding fight cards fairly regularly in the near future. Bellator, however, is far less gung-ho on a return to business as usual.
Bellator was much quicker to respond to the pandemic crisis than many others in the MMA promotional sphere, cancelling their March 13th event just hours before the fight card was supposed to take place. Soon after they announced that they would be postponing their run of May events (not having had any planned for April, already). That meant that Bellator 242: Bader vs. Nemkov, Bellator London, and Bellator 243: Carmouche vs. Bohm were all put on ice. Now it looks like the promotion will be adding their planned June 6th card in Chicago, IL as well.
Bellator 244 was set to be headlined by a rematch of the 2016 lightweight title fight between then-champion Michael Chandler and former UFC champion Benson Henderson. Chandler defeated Henderson by split decision in their first go-round, losing his title to Brent Primus via injury TKO just 7 months later. The Paramount Network based promotion announced the decision via a recent press release:
Due to the ongoing safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as current federal, state and local government mandates, Bellator MMA officials today have announced that Bellator 244, originally scheduled to take place on June 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill., has been postponed.
The organization will continue to monitor the situation closely and fully intends to reschedule the event as soon as possible.
As always, the health and safety of our athletes, fans, partners and staff remains our top priority. We appreciate the understanding and patience of everyone involved during this incredibly difficult time.
The next event on the Bellator calendar isn’t set until October 3rd in Dublin, Ireland. It seems likely that many of the COVID-19 travel and event restrictions will be eased by then. But will Bellator really wait all summer to put on another fight card with states in the US looking to ease some restrictions already?
A recent report from MMA Fighting suggests they’re much more likely to start scheduling new events over the summer, to take place behind closed doors in California. Starting in June or July, the promotion apparently intends to move to a Viacom owned Hollywood studio lot—where they will be able to produce small scale events, requiring less than 50 people.
“We want to be back in there as soon as possible, but we want to do it the right way, and health and safety comes first,” Coker told MMA Fighting. “This situation is real, and we’re going to do everything we can to protect our staff, our fighters and our contractors.
“We expect to get back to work and get all those protocols worked out sometime in the next 60 days, and we’re going to get right back to work after that.”