With the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, the short-term future of professional sports in the United States and around the world remains largely uncertain.
While the majority of organizations have suspended operations, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has vowed to soldier onward with its scheduled itinerary of events.
"Unless there's a total shutdown of the country, where people can't leave their houses and things like that, these fights will happen,” UFC president Dana White recently said on ESPN. "We're gonna move on. These fights will happen. These guys will compete. We will find venues and we will figure this thing out. I mean, the only thing that's gonna stop us is a complete government shutdown, where everybody is confined to their homes.”
As a result, online oddsmaker BetOnline has offered a couple of interesting prop bets regarding the UFC’s plans in the coming weeks. Perhaps the most highly anticipated of the promotion’s upcoming is UFC 249, which is headlined by a lightweight championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and was scheduled for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 18.
As of this writing, bettors can wager for (+250) or against (-400) that event taking place on the date and location as originally planned. Odds for UFC 249 taking place in Brooklyn have already shifted significantly, as when they were originally released, it was -225 against it taking place and +160 for it going forward as planned.
White has already said the promotion is working on contingency plans for UFC 249, as New York recently declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"So, we had possibly a couple different venues for that fight, including Nevada," White said. "So, now the whole Nevada thing went down, so we're looking for another venue. I hope by [Sunday morning], I should have two venue options for that fight.
"That fight will happen. It will go on. The fans are all freaking out about that, do not worry. Khabib versus Tony will happen.”
Meanwhile, BetOnline is also offering odds on when the United States government might force the UFC to shut down. As of now, it’s -120 that the Las Vegas-based promotion will have to cancel its events by June 30 and -120 that it won’t. Again, those odds could change quickly considering the fluid nature of the coronavirus situation.
Currently, the promotion is working to find a new location for UFC Fight Night 170, which was originally slated for London on Saturday. Most of the original card has been scrapped as well, but according to multiple reports, promotion officials hope to put together enough fights to hold an event this weekend. No location or venue has been announced.