Scott Coker of the Bellator MMA organisation outlined process behind postponing Bellator 241, and why it had to be done.
So, Bellator 241 was called off hours before the actual event was due to start. What was the process on fight day ?
“These conversations started around 1pm and by 1.30pm we were shutting everything. We had to contact a small army of people to contact to let them know. I sent an email to Viacom and Showtime and DAZN.”
“There’s a lot of scrambling going on. We’ve tried to keep it as organised as possible. They didn’t know if [President] Trump was going to do another travel ban so lots have been getting on flights. Most of our staff is based in California but there are fighters from all over the world. People are panicking a bit about that. I don’t think there will be a travel ban domestically. As far as the fighters and officials, we paid everybody. We made sure they were looked after. Now it’s about trying to get all the fighters home, especially the ones in Europe. We might have to be creative to get them out. I think they can only go through London. I’m not sure.”
What now for the fight league ?
“A lot of it will depend on having the ability to get tested and how long it’ll take to get the tests back. Even if you do that, you have to make sure everyone in this world has to be clean. I’d think we’d have to test all our fighters. We’ll monitor what other sports do. We’re still learning about this virus. There’s a lot of uncertainties still. We’ll follow the local testing procedures and see how it works out.”
What happens with the schedule May events in San Jose and London ?
“I’m not optimistic about anything at this point. We might have to push back into the summer to continue. Things could change, hopefully. We can’t plan for the future right now when we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks.”
Has it been the strangest week you can remember ?
“It all started on Monday. We had such an amazing press conference in New York. That feels like it was two months ago. It’s only four days ago. We announced all these great fights. Four days later we were cancelling fights. After the weigh-ins, it was all systems go. Then we heard NASCAR cancelled their show. We heard the President was going to make a state of emergency address. The staff were worried about how they would get home, production people too. It changes daily and the circumstances today with the virus, we made the right call to cancel.”
What was the key decision-making for you in all this over COVID19 ?
“Health for our guys is No.1. The fighters aren’t happy but everyone is paid and they’ll be here to fight another day. Our staff will be here for another day. These are uncertain times. I’m not going to start panicking right now, but we made the right decision. I’m going to go back home and I think we’ll have to take a break. We’re not sure how fast this thing can move, if there will be a vaccine and if testing will improve. This tournament is now being postponed now maybe until June.
The June event has to go somewhere so the tournament might have to pushed to the end of the year. But maybe a vaccine will come in the next few weeks. As an adult I’ve never experienced anything like this.”