Tempers flare as the coronavirus cancelations overtake the sports world. Against all odds, the UFC refused to be the sports league that canceled any events. The NBA, the NCAA competitions and more were canceled promptly sending all fans into a state of torpor. As the situation intensified, the UFC eventually had to yield to government mandates as well. There is something to be said about the promotion trying to keep their staff and fighters working.
CLAIM: Covid-19 is matter-of-factly deadlier than the flu for virtually all demographics. SOURCE: https://t.co/xqfsUIWopi pic.twitter.com/cAsBCUKPas — Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) March 15, 2020
Some see this as very immoral. The potential to endanger the workers for the sake of compensation does not sit right with them. It if were up to some, the events would have been shut down immediately and every fighter would get their full payments. This sounds great, and this point of view is no surprise. Lots of people see organizations as money machines that can afford to do anything including giving away money. Interestingly, most of the outcry does not come from those signing workers’ checks. Compensation also varies across promotions. Full payment could mean a flat fee, or it could be show money that is between 80% and 50% of their pay.
Josh, the fighters wanna fight josh. Hats off to Coker and crew yesterday but those fighters wanted to fight. That’s what they do! I see what you’re doing Thomson https://t.co/8lUSMZcHiZ — Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 14, 2020
A number of fighters and other figures loved the idea that fighters could continue to make money. As much as it is ideal to remain home, workers living paycheck to paycheck do not have the option of missing work due to coronavirus cancelations. Contractors like UFC fighters may also be living check to check.
Complications to Come
If coronavirus cancelations put fighters out of work in the next few weeks, there is no guarantee when they will get paid again. Landlords etc. do not seem to be withholding their charges from their tenants. Without collaboration from these groups, it is hard to convince workers to take a hiatus that they cannot afford. Someone has to pay workers’ bills while they are forced to sit at home and there are no solutions in sight.
This log jam can be handled a few ways once events are cleared to continue. The UFC can take all of the lower level fighters off of the prelims and cram main and undercards with headliners and feature bouts. This would leave the lowest paid fighters to really fend for themselves. The UFC can do the opposite and let the lower level fighters compete but they may not generate enough money over several cards to justify continuing production. Alternatively, the UFC can sparingly place bouts into cards, but no one knows how long any particular fighter(s) layoffs will be.
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Best case scenario right now is that the bouts pick back up in empty arenas. I can admit that like all remote viewers, watching the fans cheer and the crowd react are 20% of the fun and that is a big 20%. Even a casual viewer gets a little extra juice from watching fighters like Ronda Rousey be the only foreigner ever to elicit cheers from Brazilian fans over one of their own.
2020 is a year of catastrophe so far, so at this point any improvement is a big one. Between celebrity deaths, forest fires, the recession, war panic, and now a global pandemic there have not been many things to celebrate this year. The coronavirus cancelations could put us in a really bad place economically and socially. Bars, and gyms are closed, and restaurants are doing what they can to push forward.
A Glimmer of Hope?
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The strangest part of hard times is, the best and most impactful fighters are molded by them. If the nation goes into another depression or economic disaster that would terrible. However, there will also likely be a surge in break through performances and championship runs members of the different American communities. Most people may not remember this, but there was a time when many Jewish fighters were seen as formidable talents. These days, there are not too many Jewish fighters that make headlines. This is a good thing. This means that at the very least they have made professional and financial progress in our society.
For now, the future is uncertain for everyone. So, in the event that the situation worsens, there will be a generation of champions waiting to rise up from the ashes. ■