Due to the novel coronavirus global pandemic, there is just one MMA show scheduled in the US this weekend, and just a handful worldwide. On Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida, promoter Mitchell Chamale intends to hold a fully-regulated Combat Night MMA event.
"The event in Jacksonville is still scheduled for Saturday night and is licensed and regulated by the Florida State Boxing Commission," wrote Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokesperson Patrick Fargason to Marc Raimondi for ESPN. "Any decision to cancel the event will be left to the local officials."
The event will be held with no fans in attendance, and there will be under the 50 person limit in the state, with not even ring card girls, or potentially even the promoter in physical attendance. It will stream via online PPV from the event website. All proceeds will go to the non-profit Josh Samman MMA Foundation. Samman was Chamale's partner in the event, prior to his death from a drug overdose in 2016. Chamale estimated that the event cost $40,000, but is content if fighters are paid. All in attendance will have their temperature taken, and will be asked if they recently traveled to any of the COVID-19 hotspots like Italy or China.
"The fighters are getting to fight and getting their paychecks to pay their rent and have groceries," said Chamale. "These fighters have been done dirty by promoters so many times in the past."
"There is a little bit of concern there. That's why all the health screenings are there and everything is in place. At the same time, there's gonna be two people touching one another and they're both young, hungry individuals. Athletic individuals. ... I don't take it lightly that [asymptomatic people being contagious] is a possibility, but I've looked into it extensively and I don't think it's a risk here."
"At the end of the day, what we really have to have is three judges, a referee, two fighters and coaches in each corner. And a camera, but we could always fix those up and point them at the right space and get out."
"I don't really care about profit. I don't really care about turning and making some money on this. What I really care about is making it happen and with everything happening if I'm taking profit from it, I just don't like how that looks. I want this entire event to just be about the MMA community."