Bellator 241 becomes 1st U.S. MMA event postponed because of coronavirus pandemic

Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire and Pedro Carvalho were scheduled to headline Bellator 241. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Bellator 241 scheduled for Friday night in Connecticut has been postponed, marking the first U.S. MMA cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bellator president Scott Coker made the announcement on Twitter Friday afternoon.

Coker announced on Thursday that the event would proceed without fans in attendance. It appears that organizers changed their minds in the aftermath of several other canceled sporting events including the NCAA tournament, The Players Championship and MLB’s spring training.

All of these decisions were made after after the NBA announced the suspension of its season Wednesday night.

Different strategy from UFC

The Bellator decision stands in contrast to the UFC’s approach. UFC president Dana White said on Thursday that his promotion’s events over the next month will continue. He told ESPN that the UFC made the decision after consulting with President Donald Trump, who encouraged him to move forward.

“I talked to the president and the vice president of the United States today about this,” White said. “They’re taking this very serious. They’re saying ‘Be cautious, be careful, but live your life and stop panicking.’”

Prior to declaring a national emergency on Friday, Trump has consistently downplayed the impact of the coronavirus while blaming media and Democrats for overhyping the pandemic.

White is a political supporter of Trump and has publicly campaigned for him.

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