According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida now has 23,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 668 coronavirus-related deaths. There are currently 3,458 patients being hospitalized due to the virus, according to health officials.
Some health officials are recommending that groups of more than 10 don’t get together and a government expert is saying a 14-day national shutdown may be needed.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raised eyebrows across the state and country Monday when Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings revealed DeSantis deemed professional wrestling to be “essential business” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not just WWE and All Elite Wrestling, though — a memorandum circulated Thursday actually deemed all professional sports to be “essential services.”
Forty-three states currently have stay-at-home orders, and Florida is the only one of the 43 with a known exception for professional sports, paving the way for the state to pioneer a return to live sports. None of the major sports leagues have indicated any sort of decision regarding the resumption of play is imminent, though, as they have to weigh travel limitations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to limit the size of gatherings, and the prospect of isolating athletes, coaches and “essential” personnel from their families. MLB games, for example, require more than 50 people in attendance, which exceeds the CDC’s recommendation of a maximum gathering size.
UFC Event: The UFC could also theoretically hold UFC 205 in Florida on May 9th, although Disney and ESPN asked the mixed martial arts league to call off a match planned in California…and they did!
The UFC’s Apex has been mentioned as a possible site, but up to this point, the state of Nevada has not signed off on fan-less events. That leaves Florida as the only known option. There is strong indication the UFC’s return will take place in the state of Florida.
Stats: When comparing events from this time last year, Florida produced 11 events with 149 fighters contracted for those events. As of April 17, 2020, Florida has produced 5 events with only 69 fighters contracted for those events. A reduction in events by 45.45%.
One particular pro-mma event was Action Fight League, scheduled for March 16,2020 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood Florida.
State representative called on Seminole Hard Rock Casino to temporarily shut down: Rep. Jackie Toledo wants to see the Seminole Hard Rock Casino temporarily close its doors and send employees home in response to the coronavirus outbreak. So far, though, the casino is saying “no dice.”
The casino issued a statement saying that while they continue to monitor the coronavirus closely, they are not closing right now.
Instead, the casino is taking safety measures such as postponing upcoming shows and MMA events, closing the poker room, removing some chairs from table games, blocking off some slot machines and encouraging social distancing.
Combat Night: Despite the majority of professional sports leagues around the world going on hiatus at some point in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s MMA Award Winning Promotion Company Combat Night ( who produces more MMA events than any other promoter in the State of Florida) decided to have their event on March 21 in Jacksonville, Florida.
“The event was licensed and regulated by the Florida State Boxing Commission,” Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) spokesperson Patrick Fargason told Marc Raimondi of ESPN. “Any decision to cancel the event was left to the local officials.”
As for those health concerns, Raimondi noted that the DBPR “required certain health and safety precautions,” which included all fighters having their temperatures taken at Friday’s weigh-ins along with anybody going into the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on Saturday having their temperature taken and being “asked if they have been in contact with anyone who has coronavirus, anyone who has symptoms or has been recently in any of the COVID-19 hot zones.”
Additionally, no more than 50 people will be permitted in the arena at any one time, per CDC recommendations.
For the record, there are no official reports of anyone contracting the virus due to this event. It is safe to say that Combat Night will jump on the new “essential service act” and continue to be the leader in providing MMA events through out the Sate of Florida.
Keep up to date with MMA events in Florida by visiting our events page.