Sabah Fadai was one of the first MMA promoters to reschedule an event due to the Coronavirus despite heavy backlash from fighters.
"The city (of Chilliwack) was saying we can cancel this thing anytime as it progresses," the Rise FC president told theScore of his event that was originally scheduled for April 4. "So I wasn't ready to say ‘OK, well we'll play it by ear.’ I just didn't want my fighters to go through the weight cut. Everybody was pissed off at me for doing it. But at the end of the day, man, I know now I made the right call."
Fadai, a former featherweight fighter, decided on March 9 to move his Rise FC 6 event before most professional sports leagues suspended operations. The 34-year-old says his sponsors made him realize he made the right decision, along with close family and friends.
"We had a few sponsors drop out on me," Fadai adds. "And the reason (they said is) 'Look, if there is a case of (Coronavirus) at your event, everybody in that facility has to get quarantined, right?' And then they're out of employees for two, three weeks."
"I said to myself 'If these guys are concerned, I guarantee you I'm not going to be selling a bunch of tickets.' Financially, I'm going to get screwed, and if there's a case, all of my fighters, staff, everybody's in jeopardy," he continued. "So I had to make the call early. And I'm glad I did."
The Canadian promoter says he's losing around $5,000 rescheduling the event. However, canceling the card at the last minute would have cost him close to $40,000.
Fadai initially rescheduled his event for June 6, but with more cases of the Coronavirus being reported and with Muslim fighters unable to train properly due to Ramadan, Rise FC 6 will now take place on June 27 at the Landing Sports Centre in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
Fadai isn't expecting an apology from his early critics, even with many organizations around the world altering operations this week due to the virus.
"When there's something bad, we get vocal fighters that are very disgusted with us," Fadai said. "But when they realize that they're wrong, we never hear an apology. Like I've been a fighter. I've been there. You guys should at least appreciate the fact that I did it early enough. Not the day before the fight."
The UFC, meanwhile, is proceeding as scheduled and will host events after this weekend at the promotion's UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Fadai understands the UFC's decision despite the risk for fighters.
"I'm not surprised that they're doing it," Fadai said. "Everybody will watch those fights now. They're moving the events into the UFC Apex, a small venue, just fighters and coaches and whatnot."
"The chances are during travel, somebody could pick up (the virus)," he said. "Their immune system is low. But it's such a tough call. So you can't really hate the UFC for making the call."