UPDATE – Sunday, March 15, 4:36 PM: BRAVE CF released a statement postponing all upcoming BRAVE events “until further notice” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Middle Eastern MMA promotion BRAVE Combat Federation is reportedly still planning on promoting three events in three different countries over the next month and a half, despite the increasing restrictions placed on travel, sporting events, and global populations due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Bahraini promotion is scheduled to promote BRAVE 35 in Balneário Camboriú, Brazil, on March 28; BRAVE 36 in Bucharest, Romania, on April 13; and BRAVE 37 in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 18.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, BRAVE has engaged in talks about the coronavirus and its potential effect on their upcoming events, but has adopted a wait-and-see approach, opting instead to wait for direction from the governments of the states in which they have scheduled events.
The coronavirus (COVID-19), a virus that affects the respiratory system, has become the focus of international concern since originating in Wuhan, China, last December.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database states that there are over 137,400 confirmed cases and at least 5,000 reported deaths globally. The World Health Organization has labeled the outbreak a pandemic.
As the outbreak has spread to more and more countries, including the United States, virtually all major sporting leagues have suspended play, postponed games and matches, or shut down outright; the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour, NCAA’s March Madness, XFL, MLS, and a litany of international soccer leagues have all suspended their seasons and tournaments.
The world of mixed martial arts largely followed suit, with dozens of MMA promotions – including Poland’s KSW, Spain’s AFL, Singapore’s ONE Championship, Combate Americas, Bellator, and many others – postponing events due to the virus.
ONE Championship and the UFC have also elected to hold events without fans in attendance, at times due to the government’s overseeing the event decree. UFC President Dana White has stated that it will move two upcoming events, UFC Columbus and UFC Portland, to its brand-new APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, while keeping the upcoming UFC London card intact as is.
Yet, according to the aforementioned source, BRAVE has been content to play the situation by ear, waiting to take cues from the governments overseeing their events in hopes that the events will go on unaffected. BRAVE has also continued to publically promote the upcoming events on social media.
Purportedly, one of the individuals involved in the discussions is BRAVE CF Executive Projects Director Gustavo Firmino, who maintains a collection of Instagram stories on his public profile containing videos and images related to “Flat Earth.”
Firmino also retweeted a March 1 tweet of U.S. President Donald Trump’s, who decried the “Fake News Media” as “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” following the media’s extensive coronavirus coverage.
BRAVE’s decision about its upcoming Brazil event may be made easier, as government officials in Florianópolis, a major city in the Santa Catarina state, just implemented a ban on events in the city with more than 250 people (outdoors) and more than 100 people (indoors) due to coronavirus fears, according to a translated report from Brazilian outlet ND.
Balneário Camboriú, the city BRAVE intends to promote the event in, is also in Santa Catarina.
Additionally, The Body Lock has learned that several of BRAVE’s fighters have expressed concerns over the coronavirus and BRAVE’s silence on the matter, inquiring about BRAVE’s policies going forward.
In electronic messages obtained by The Body Lock, multiple fighters expressed their confusion with and ignorance of BRAVE’s stated policies, or lack thereof, pertaining to the coronavirus.
The messages were not included in their entirety to protect the anonymity of the fighters involved in the communications.
The fighters all asked about the status of the events and their fights, with at least two fighters directly mentioning the coronavirus.
Two fighters mentioned concerns about the international and crowded nature of an MMA event in a foreign country, which would be conducive to the spread of a global disease.
Multiple fighters mentioned the postponements of other MMA events and sporting leagues, and one fighter noted that the ambiguity surrounding the situation could potentially cost him a significant amount of money due to travel, training, and other expenses.
Repeatedly, fighters mentioned their hopes of avoiding infection and staying safe.
BRAVE responded to The Body Lock’s request for comment by replying that the promotion “will have a statement up shortly” that will provide clarity on BRAVE’s future plans.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.