Thursday, May 28, 2020 / by Ken Couture
The Nevada Athletic Commission will meet by phone Wednesday to determine whether combat sports events can resume in Nevada with enhanced health and safety protocols.
People close to the situation have indicated that approval is likely, with UFC fighters already arriving in Las Vegas for a scheduled Saturday event at the organization’s Apex facility.
A written statement from Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday night went even further in indicating Nevada was open to the idea of hosting sporting events, as he included the activity in Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, which goes into effect Friday.
“Certain events will be allowed under specific restrictions for the purpose of broadcasting or livestreaming, but they will not include a live audience or any spectators,” he wrote. “This may include sporting events, concerts, theater performances, or other entertainment type events.”
Sisolak said operators should submit plans to the state authority with jurisdiction over the event, which would be the NAC in the case of mixed martial arts and boxing.
Pending approval, fight cards will be run with stricter wording in the self-isolation language of the coronavirus protocols.
Fighters will be required to self-isolate at the host hotel as they await results of tests administered upon their arrival.
That marks a change in instruction from the three events in Jacksonville, Florida, this month when fighters were expected to self-isolate as they awaited results.
The policy probably was tweaked as a result of a collaboration with the NAC, which is expected to offer details on a safety plan of its own at Wednesday’s meeting.
The three Florida events drew mostly passing grades for the protocols put in place, but the UFC did face criticism when a fighter and his two cornermen who had been seen around other fighters on social media videos at the host hotel as they awaited results tested positive for the coronavirus.
The NAC, which has approval of UFC events Saturday and June 6 on its agenda, has indicated it would present several additional protocols that promoters would need to adapt to hold combat sports events in the state.
Top Rank Boxing also is seeking two dates to host events at the MGM Grand Garden. The UFC intends to host events each Saturday through June 27, and Top Rank is planning for two cards per week.
Fans would not be allowed at the events.
According to the UFC’s new protocols, which were outlined in a memo to fighters and their camps and first reported by MMA Junkie, fighters and corner people will be administered two swab tests.
The first will be taken when they check into the host hotel. Everyone is instructed to “not leave the athlete hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result.”
Those who test negative can go about their fight week activities, while those who test positive must remain in their room to await further instructions.
Another test will be administered after Friday’s weigh-ins, with another self-isolation period in effect until Saturday’s card.
“During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the athlete hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” the memo stated. “You also should not have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp.”
Wednesday’s meeting will include a public comment session. The commission suspended combat sports March 14.
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