It looks like the UFC may have a strong “plan B,” if that’s what it comes down to. This according to Maxim Korolkov, Belarus’ Director of Hand-to-Hand Combat and Mixed Martial Arts. Korolkov recently spoke to Sputnik.by as well as Sport 24 to explain that he had extended an offer to the UFC amid the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to host their upcoming PPV in Minsk.
Belarus is apparently one of a few countries around the world still hosting large scale sporting events, even apparently with audiences still in attendance. President Alexander Lukashenko recently called the Coronavirus pandemic “mass psychosis” and was seen participating in a public hockey event just days ago.
“There are no viruses here. Did you see any flying around? I don’t see them either,” President Lukashenko, said in a recent interview. “It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
That likely plays a large part in why Korolkov says he has been able to make a proposal to the UFC, apparently with full “support of the presidential administration”—including, he claims, the ability to quickly obtain visas for athletes. And why he feels that they could come up with a venue on little more than a week’s notice if needed.
The director told Sport 24 he even got a response back from the promotion who thanked him for the offer and have said that their “proposal was included in the conditional ‘plan B.’” Korolkov added that he was told the UFC already has “well-developed options” for their UFC 249 fight card—which White doesn’t want leaked to the media. However, reports are surfacing that the Ministry of Sport and Tourism in Belarus has denied any discussion for plans to bring UFC 249 to the country.
Eventually, with so little time until before UFC 249 takes place – and with plans supposedly already set – Korolkov himself admitted that the likelihood of the UFC coming to Minsk on April 18th was unlikely. But, unless the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic changes drastically in the coming months, they may become an increasingly enticing option for a promotion hellbent on finding a way to return to putting fight cards in front of fans.