Wednesday, published reports indicated that the 2020 NFL preseason would be shortened to two games from the originally-scheduled four due to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The NFL officially announced this news on Thursday, and with this announcement, of the 65 originally-scheduled exhibition games supposed to take place this August, 32 are now going ahead.
Last week, the league scrubbed the planned Aug. 6 2020 AFC/NFC Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys and the Pro Football Hall of Fame canceled the associated 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony to August of 2021 due to the disease.
Inductees from both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes will be recognized at next year’s ceremony.
The revised preseason schedule now runs from Aug. 20 to Aug. 31, with teams playing one home game and one away game before the regular season’s scheduled start from Sept. 10 to Sept. 14.
Onward to today’s topic:
March 13 was supposed to have seen the return of Bellator MMA to Uncasville, CT and DAZN for Bellator 241, which would have been highlighted by both remaining quarterfinals in the Bellator MMA Featherweight World Grand Prix.
WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic:
In the day leading up to the schedule Bellator 241 show, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease as a global pandemic, and Bellator was forced to make changes.
No fans allowed:
On March 12, Bellator MMA revealed that the next night’s Bellator 241 would take place as scheduled, but without paid spectators inside Mohegan Sun Arena in an effort to curb the spread of the disease, as necessitated by an executive order from Connecticut Governor Ted Lamont, banning mass gatherings of 250 spectators or more.
A change of plans:
The next day, March 13, with just under six hours to go before Bellator 241 was to start live with the undercard fights on DAZN, the Bellator MMA app, and Bellator MMA YouTube channel, Bellator president Scott Coker elected to postpone the event in the interest of safety for all parties involved.
In spite of the 11th-hour decision to postpone Bellator 241 on March 13, all fighters who had been booked to appear on the card were compensated.
When explaining the decision to postpone Bellator 241, Coker said this:
“There was one thing on my mind: ‘Is my staff, my fighters, my production crew, are we putting our people in harm’s way?’, and I just couldn’t come to an answer on that. I believe we made the right call because who really knows, right? I wasn’t sure about the situation, and rumors start flying around. And at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel comfortable, some of the production crew didn’t feel comfortable.”
In the aftermath of the March 13 postponement, Bellator MMA announced on March 30 that every event through May on its schedule would be called off, eventually extending to the June 6 Bellator 244 card in Chicago.
Back to the fights:
Since then, other mixed martial arts promotions, such as the UFC and TITAN Fighting Championships, have not only announced plans for a return to live action but have held shows in recent weeks.
Women’s MMA promotion INVICTA FC held its INVICTA FC 40 this past Thursday evening in Kansas City at Memorial Hall without spectators in attendance.
Combate Americas, the first US-based MMA promotion to suspend competition due to the pandemic, has yet to return from its COVID-19 hiatus, but is currently targeting in-studio events on Aug. 28 in Miami.
No scheduled events for Bellator:
Bellator MMA, however, has not revealed a targeted return date for live action, but according to the official Bellator schedule (subject to change), its next event will be held Oct. 3 in Dublin, Ireland for the second Dublin-based show as part of the Bellator European Series.
When Bellator MMA does return, either later this year or next, it will probably be either without fans in tow or at reduced capacity in the arena, this after having previously targeting a return later this month with a fight between Myles Jury (18-5) and Georgi Karakhyan (29-10-1) in the Lightweight division.
Stay tuned for more on this story.