Before we begin, this entry from the “some stuff you just can’t make up” file:
A week and a half removed from comedian and host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight John Oliver humorously suggesting that the UFC rename its Fight Island as “UFSea”, the promotion filed a series of requests for trademarks for that phrase on Wednesday, pertaining to events and apparel.
Onward to today’s topic:
It was unanimous.
It took minutes to be approved.
With the approval, it’s now over.
Wednesday was a day weeks in the making for fans of combat sports, who have waited a long time to hear this piece of news:
In a virtual meeting on Wednesday morning, via telephone call, members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) recorded a unanimous vote to end the state’s ban on combat sports, such as mixed martial arts and boxing on this, its 74th day of being in effect.
The now-lifted ban was first enacted on March 14, three days after the World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic.
Subsequent to the announcement of the ban, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which had moved its then-upcoming shows in London, Columbus, OH, and Portland, OR, to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, moved to cancel those cards.
Fights on those shows were rebooked to later UFC events.
The UFC also canceled remaining subsequent shows taking place before May 9 as a result of the pandemic and restrictions pertaining to it.
With the lifting of this ban, the following combat sporting events can now proceed as scheduled:
UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns (May 30, UFC Apex)
UFC 250: Nunes vs. Spencer (June 6, UFC Apex)
Top Rank Boxing: Shakur Stevenson vs. Felix Caraballo (June 9, MGM Grand Garden Arena)
Top Rank Boxing: Jessie Magdaleno vs. Yenifel Vicente (June 11, MGM Grand Garden Arena)
All four of these events will take place with no live audience present in their respective venues as a safety measure designed to curtail the spread of the virus.
NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett said the following regarding the lifting of the ban:
“Throughout this process, we’ve been working hand and glove with the UFC. I’m aware of their operations plan and everything is moving forward based on their operations plan and our protocols.”
Although the protocol regarding Top Rank going forward has yet to be fully completed, Bennett had this to say on that front:
“I’ve reviewed their operations plan. They’re still in the process of completing it. It’s very comprehensive. We’re moving in the right direction. I’m pleased to see we’re working in concert with a closed-system event and I expect it to be very successful.”
The action in Las Vegas will begin in earnest with UFC on ESPN 9 on Saturday night.