Nevada allows UFC, boxing coronavirus comeback events to proceed

UFC will hold the first of two planned events in Nevada on Saturday

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The Nevada State Athletic Commission approved the return of Ultimate Fighting Championship and boxing to the state on Wednesday, ending a lengthy pause in live sporting events during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a unanimous vote, officials signed off on UFC’s plans to hold a pair of upcoming fight cards, including UFC Fight Night on Saturday and the UFC 250 pay-per-view event on June 6. Both events will take place without fans in attendance at UFC Apex, a facility near company headquarters that opened in June 2019.

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"Throughout this process, we've been working hand in glove with the UFC," NSAC executive director Bob Bennett said, according to the Las Vegas Sun. "I'm aware of their operations plan and everything is moving forward based on their operations plan and our protocols."

The commission also approved a pair of fight cards for boxing promotion Top Rank. Scheduled for June 9 and June 11, the boxing events will be held without fans at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.

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The fight cards will move forward with strict safety protocols in place, including extensive COVID-19 testing, health screenings and social distancing. Nevada put live sporting events on hold in mid-March when the worsening pandemic resulted in widespread shelter-in-place orders.

“Once we get those fights in and UFC gets its initial fights in, both of us will ask for additional dates," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told the Associated Press ahead of the commission’s decision. "The key was getting enough testing, and we’ve got plenty of testing in Nevada to hold our events.”

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UFC was among the first U.S. sports leagues to return to competition earlier this month, holding a trio of events without fans in Jacksonville, Florida.

Fighters are expected to be tested for COVID-19 at least twice prior to each event in Nevada.

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