When it comes to their handling of the global coronavirus pandemic, the two leading promotions in MMA couldn’t be more different.
On one hand, you have Bellator, which fell in line with the rest of the sports world last Friday when it postponed Bellator 241 amid growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. The promotion now doesn’t have an event scheduled until May 9 to decide on how it wants to proceed.
On the other hand, there’s the UFC, which waited until Tuesday to postpone its next three events – which run through April 11 – after going through with UFC on ESPN+ 28 last Saturday in an empty arena in Brasilia, Brazil. Now UFC president Dana White insists UFC 249, headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson, will happen April 18, despite governments around the world imposing bans on large gatherings.
The way John McCarthy views the situation, he’s kind of split, but there’s no question that he admires Bellator president Scott Coker for the decision he made – not just to postpone his event out of concern for public safety, but also paying everyone involved, including the fighters’ purses, as well as staff and officials who worked all week before the plug was pulled.
“That’s a big loss on his data sheet,” McCarthy, who works as a Bellator analyst, told MMA Junkie Radio. “He’s doing what he believes is the right thing, and you have to commend him for that.”
While McCarthy is quick to commend Coker and Co., that doesn’t necessarily mean he looks down on the UFC.
“The other side that I look at, I look at sports as the relief from the hardships of life,” McCarthy said. “Sports makes those moments you can forget about all the hard times, and you focus on your team, your fighter, whatever it is. You can just put those hardships away for that moment and enjoy. At least the UFC allowed people to have that moment again. There’s two sides to every story, and I’m not saying I think the UFC is wrong. They made a decision. They’re in a different position than what Bellator is in. …
“In the end, I hate to say, but this is a very litigious society. Liability is a business.”
What does McCarthy mean by that? As a former police officer, the veteran referee affectionately known as “Big John” said he often analyzes things from a legal standpoint. With that in mind, McCarthy thinks the UFC could find itself in a troubling position if its fighters or employees contract coronavirus as a result of its business practices during the pandemic.
“If you’re a plaintiff’s lawyer, you say, ‘OK, let’s take a look at what Bellator did. I can’t attack that.’ That man, being Scott Coker, shut down that show, paid people, he lost money, he showed that his interests lie with the health and safety with his people,” McCarthy said. “And then I can take it the other way, if you did run the show or running shows like the UFC is trying to do, eventually it comes down to, no matter what, you’re gonna take the owner of the UFC, or the president being Dana, and put him on the stand and ask some simple questions.
“‘Mr. White, did you know that the President of the United States declared a national emergency?’ He’s gonna have to say yes. ‘Did you know that the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL all suspended their seasons to keep people from being brought together or their athletes from being in contact with each other … did you know that they halted their seasons?’ And he’s gonna have to say yes. And in the end, they’re just gonna look and say, ‘So making money was more important to you than the health and safety of your people.’ There’s no way you can defeat it if you’re putting on shows.
“In the end, someone, somewhere, I see if something happens, someone gets (coronavirus), they can go after (the UFC) legally, and there’s no way they can cover themselves.”
As of Wednesday, no MMA fighters from either the UFC or Bellator were known to contract coronavirus.
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/03/ufc-bellator-conornavirus-approach-john-mccarthy-warning-legal-action/