01 Jan Bellator 244 postponed over COVID-19 safety concerns
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed a fifth event on the Bellator schedule.
The ViacomCBS-owned promotion on Tuesday announced the postponement of Bellator 244 over “ongoing safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak” and “current federal, state and local government mandates.”
The postponement scratches a main event rematch between ex-champs Michael Chandler and Benson Henderson. Bellator 244 originally was scheduled for June 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill., and was expected to stream live on DAZN.
Like many states, Illinois residents are currently under a stay-at-home order, though state officials have indicated there could be a modification of current guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The organization will continue to monitor the situation closely and fully intends to reschedule the event as soon as possible,” a press release stated. “As always, the health and safety of our athletes, fans, partners and staff remains our top priority. We appreciate the understanding and patience of everyone involved during this incredibly difficult time.”
Co-headlining the event was a Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix semifinal fight between A.J. McKee and Darrion Caldwell. The postponement is good news for McKee, who revealed he suffered a knee injury in a quarterfinal bout against Derek Campos.
On Monday, Bellator President Scott Coker told MMA Fighting the promotion aims to move indoors by holding live events in a Hollywood soundstage starting this summer. New regulatory guidelines that include testing for COVID-19 are expected to play a major part in restarting live events.
Several MMA promotions hope to get back to business by moving events indoors. The UFC is targeting weekly events at its APEX facility in Las Vegas.