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Manager says UFC respects fighters who don’t want to compete during COVID-19 pandemic

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Weili Zhang’s manager, Brian Butler-Au, has credited the UFC for their handling of COVID-19.

UFC 248: Open Workouts Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The UFC has come under a lot of criticism from the media for hosting events during the coronavirus pandemic, but Sucker Punch CEO Brian Butler-Au, who manages Chinese UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang, believes the premiere fight promotion is handling the situation very well.

Speaking to MMA Fighting, Butler said the UFC has treated its athletes fairly and been very understanding of those who are concerned about the possibility of contracting COVID-19.

“They don’t want to fight, it’s completely understood,” Butler said. “We’ve been asked to basically put together a list of our athletes that are domestic that are interested in fighting and that’s it. Even if there are fighters who had signed bout agreements and contracts before all of this went down, if they don’t want to fight in this time period, it’s not like anybody’s upset with anybody. It’s completely understood.

“At the same time, I understand why the UFC wants to get things going again. Like [Suckerpunch manager Bryan] Hamper said, the country needs something right now, because everybody’s just stuck. Watching Netflix is getting old. I applaud the UFC for trying to get it going, and I hope they find a safe way to get it going, because a lot of fighters want to do it and a lot of people want to watch it.”

Butler went on to commend the UFC for pushing ahead with their schedule and looks forward to when the coronavirus pandemic is finally over.

“The UFC doesn’t even have the answers right now,” he said. “All I know is they’re fighting hard to try to put together shows and get everything back on track as safely and fast as possible. That’s basically it.

“We have to show some patience. For the fighters that want to fight, when the time comes, they will fight. That’s not going to be a problem. For the ones that don’t want to fight, they won’t have to until they feel safe.”

The UFC will return to action on May 9 for the highly anticipated UFC 249 PPV featuring Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje. The blockbuster event will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL.