Even as sports go dark around the world, one high-profile event remains on the schedule. No, not Belarusian soccer.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship insists that its card for April 18 will proceed as scheduled despite the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally scheduled to be held in Brooklyn, but the New York State Athletic Commission nixed the card last month because of the health crisis. At one point, the U.F.C.’s own Las Vegas studios seemed the most likely location, until the state suspended combat sports. More recently, various American states and Middle Eastern countries with looser rules have been suggested as alternatives.
Over the weekend, Dana White, the president of the U.F.C., said that the card was on, but that the lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was out of the headline bout.
Nurmagomedov is in Russia and had gone back and forth about his availability. “Sixteen days before fight, and I don’t know location,” he told ESPN last week. “This is not professional.” He did add that he was still in shape.
For fight fans who have been waiting for a Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson bout for years, the loss of the main event was a blow.
That star-crossed matchup has been scheduled five separate times, as far back as 2015, but was always canceled because of an injury or an illness to one fighter or the other. The most recent previous attempt, in April 2018, was scuttled after Ferguson was hurt falling over some cords before a television interview. Now the coronavirus has tripped up the fight.
The bout is much anticipated because Nurmagomedov is perhaps the biggest star in the U.F.C. right now, with a 28-0 record and ranked behind only Jon Jones as the top pound-for-pound fighter. (And Jones is back in legal trouble.) Ferguson, the No. 1 contender, is 25-3 with 12 consecutive wins, a streak that dates to 2012.
If the card does come off, Ferguson may fight a replacement. There is also a bout scheduled between Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas, the top two contenders in the women’s strawweight class.
The U.F.C. last put on a card on March 14 in Brazil, with no fans in attendance. Since then, two cards, scheduled for London and Columbus, Ohio, were canceled, and a card for this coming weekend in Portland, Ore., has also been scrapped. There is one more event scheduled after U.F.C. 249 in April and three more in May that for now are on.
Returning to Practice, Carefully
As a league ban on soccer practice expired in Germany, Bayern Munich and other teams returned to training on Monday, carefully.
German soccer remains suspended until at least May, but first-team players were on hand for Bayern’s practice. They stayed five feet apart on the field and 12 feet apart in the locker room; players also arrived at staggered times and did not eat or shower at the training grounds.
“It was a very unusual feeling to hold a training session in small groups today, but it was also nice to see the boys live again,” Manuel Neuer, the team captain, told the German site Sport Buzzer. “I would also like to thank the club and all the helpers that we have the opportunity to complete football-specific training sessions on the pitch in these difficult times.”
For the record, Sport Buzzer focused more on the return to training of the star striker Robert Lewandowski than on the unusual circumstances of the return to practice. Remember when an injury or a big trade was the biggest sports story of the day?
What About Fistball and Korfball?
Yes, maybe baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis and golf have shut up shop, but there must be some fistball still on? Or maybe korfball?
Guess again. The European fistball championship and under-18 world championship have been postponed, and the World Tour final has been canceled.
(Fistball is like volleyball but played on an outdoor field. Players are not allowed to use their open hands. Germany has dominated the sport. But you knew that.)
Just about all major international korfball events have also been postponed or canceled.
(Korfball is the rare coed team sport, with four men and four women playing a basketball-like game, but with a basket without a net or a backboard. The Netherlands has won 10 of the 11 world championships. But you knew that too.)
Kitchen Climbing and Bedroom Bouldering
The floor is lava, the popular schoolyard game where players have to avoid touching the ground, is being taken to a new level. With professional climbers stuck at home, many are finding creative ways to get through their houses, without putting their feet down.
Brooke Raboutou, a United States rock climber who clinched her spot for the Olympics, showed the world how she grabs a snack without stepping foot in her kitchen. She starts by scaling her island, grasping onto the ledge with her hands and feet. Raboutou then crosses over to her countertop, making her way past the dishwasher and all the way to the fridge. She assured followers that she washed the counter thoroughly after.
Josh Levin, a climber and contestant on “American Ninja Warrior,” went all the way from his bathroom sink to his couch. He jumped from wall to wall, tiptoed on top of the thin trim that lines the floor and scaled up a wall to his ceiling beam. Other climbers are also crafting their own courses, charting routes through their kitchens and living rooms. DANIELLE ALLENTUCK