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UFC Is The Last Sport Standing, But For How Long?

UFC Empty Arena

With essentially all of North American sports being halted last week due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UFC took center stage Saturday evening as it put on a card from Brasilia, Brazil, in front of an empty arena. This provided solace to sports fans and bettors alike – for a few hours.

The Octagon was supposed to be set up this weekend at the O2 Arena in London, England. However, a new travel ban in the U.K. has resulted in that venue being ruled out but UFC president Dana White vows that this and future cards will continue.

UFC Fight Night 171 is still tentatively scheduled to take place Saturday, March 21, but a location is unclear as are the fights to put on the card. What makes things even more difficult is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that events with 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.

Over that span, there are seven UFC events scheduled, including two pay-per-views and the highly anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson scheduled for April 18.

Online sportsbook BetOnline has released three prop betting options on the immediate outlook for the UFC. These options are “Will UFC cancel/suspend upcoming events in March?”, “Will UFC 249 occur on April 18 in Brooklyn?” and “U.S. Government force UFC to cancel events by June 30.”

Will UFC Events Be Canceled in March?

As much as it pains me to say, I think the UFC will have a hard time filling out cards or finding a location to hold fights so I think betting on the “Yes” at -120 for “Will UFC cancel/suspend upcoming events in March?” is a wise decision. Most commissions are likely to heed the advice of the CDC and limit events to fewer than 50 people. When you count the fighters, their corners, UFC brass, refs and judges, you’re definitely over 50 people.

Will UFC cancel/Suspend upcoming events in March?
WinnerOdds
Yes-120
No-120

Odds as of March 16 at BetOnline

Online sportsbook Bovada has a little more optimistic outlook for this weekend’s card, providing props on where UFC Fight Night 171 could take place. Connecticut is the favorite at -130 but today announced that it also wouldn’t be allowing events of more than 50 people. Second on the oddsboard is Florida at +200, but with notable gym American Top Team closing its doors to the public, that should suggest a large event is not going to happen there either. Really, I’d be shocked if the UFC can figure something out on such short notice under these conditions.

In Which state will UFC Fight Night 171 take place?
WinnerOdds
Connecticut-130
Florida+200
Minnesota+400
New Mexico+800

Odds as of March 16 at Bovada

Khabib vs Ferguson: The Cursed Fight

The second prop regards the highly anticipated fight of Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson that has been canceled four times already. I think there’s more room for optimism on this one than on whether fights will be canceled or postponed in March. That fight is to headline UFC 249 scheduled for April 18, which is over a month away.

However, the prop does mention “in Brooklyn” and Dana White has already said the fight won’t be taking place in New York because of that state’s decision to limit attendance at events so the “No” at -120 appears to be a lock.

Additionally, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has suspended all combat sports indefinitely, which rules out the UFC’s APEX facility in Las Vegas. I’m sure Dana is going to do everything he can to get this fight a venue so I’m holding out hope the fight goes on, though likely not in New York.

Will UFC 249 occur on April 18 in Brooklyn?
WinnerOdds
Yes-120
No-120

Odds as of March 16 at BetOnline

Will The UFC Have To Be Stopped?

Lastly, “U.S. Government force UFC to cancel events by June 30.” The “No” is favored at -200 and I believe it is the better wager than the “Yes” coming back at +150. What I think is more likely to happen is the lack of venues will doom events, which is the underlying theme through this entire article.

Furthermore, with travel restrictions and bans, it will be increasingly tougher to bring in fighters from outside the United States, which makes matchmaking more difficult. At some point, the UFC is likely to run out of options and realize that canceling events is the only course of action, but it should be respected for doing everything it can to keep us fans entertained.

U.S. government force UFC to cancel events by June 30
WinnerOdds
Yes+150
No-200

Odds as of March 16 at BetOnline