Reopening the UFC after the coronavirus lockdown : Planet Money Mixed martial arts is the first major spectator sport in the U.S. to host live events since the coronavirus lockdown. Other sports are watching to see whether MMA could point the way.
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Reopening Sports: Does MMA Point The Way?

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Reopening Sports: Does MMA Point The Way?

Reopening Sports: Does MMA Point The Way?

Reopening Sports: Does MMA Point The Way?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/856514247/856520836" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 09: Justin Gaethje (L) of the United States punches Tony Ferguson (R) of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the biggest promotional organization in the sport of mixed martial arts. Last Saturday it hosted UFC 249, a night of fights at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a pay-per view event that viewers could watch on ESPN Plus for $64.99.

No other major sport in the U.S. is hosting live events right now. Which means billions of dollars in lost revenues for competition organizers, broadcasters, officials, marketers, brands and, of course competitors. So a lot of eyes were on UFC 249 and its participants, all of whom took some big risks by going back to work. Health risks. Reputational risks. Financial risks. And, of course, legal risks.

The rest of the pro sports world watched closely, to see what went right and what went wrong, and what lessons competition organizers could learn as they think about restarting their own games and matches and events... whenever that might be.

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