United States President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries may have an impact on UFC events over the next 90 days, including one key matchup for UFC 210.
In an interview with MMA DNA, UFC Middleweight Gegard Mousasi expressed concern whether he would be allowed into the country for his April 8 fight against Chris Weidman in Buffalo, N.Y. Mousasi is Iranian born but currently resides in the Netherlands and holds a Dutch passport. Iran is one of the countries affected by the ban.
“The rule is, even if you’re born in Iran, you’re a threat,” he said.
Mousasi’s manager, Nima Safapour, doesn’t believe his client is in any jeopardy, “We expect to meet Weidman in Buffalo,” he told MMA Junkie.
UFC has also released a statement, saying that they are monitoring the situation and hope for all fight’s to go off as planned. It says: “There are numerous variables including a judicial injunction. We are monitoring and will be affirmatively engaged to ensure that our fighters and employees are able to go where they need to compete and do their jobs.”
The current UFC schedule doesn’t list any other fighters from the affected countries fighting on U.S.-based cards. Iraqi born, Canadian strawweight Randa Markos is booked for the Halifax card, so she shouldn’t be affected as she lives and trains in Canada so will not have to travel through the U.S. to get to the event. Iranian born Reza Madadi is in a similar situation in that he is booked on the March 18 London card.
The latest event UFC has fights booked for is UFC 210 on April 8, which is towards the end of the 90 day ban, although there is always the possibility the ban could be extended which could cause difficulties for any fighters based out of the affected countries.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: From a quick look at the roster and upcoming cards, it doesn’t look like there will be any major casualties due to the ban, although if you are an aspiring UFC fighter in one of the affected countries, your prospects of making it big in the U.S. aren’t looking good. That said, if you are an aspiring anything from one of those countries right now, your prospects don’t look good in the U.S. Because Mousasi has a Dutch passport, he will probably be granted admission to the states when he comes over for the fight, but that remains to be seen. Hopefully they can confirm his status well in advance. If they anticipate any issues, they should rebook Mousasi for the London card, as it could use some star power. I’m not sure if Weidman would be up for the change of venue, but they could find another middleweight to take the fight in that case.
WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Ricardo Abreu has been flagged for a potential USADA violation from a Dec. 21, 2016 out of competition test. Abreu was already serving a two-year suspension for testing positive for anabolic steroids metabolites and was eligible for return on July 1, 2018.
-Dana White said on the most recent “UFC Unfiltered” podcast that he expects Jon Jones to challenge for the Light-Heavyweight Championship upon his return, which could be as early as this July. White has previously stated that he would not headline a pay-per-view with Jones when he returns, but it is possible for both statements to be true if he puts Jones challenging for the title second from the top on a big show.
-UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes issued an apology to Ronda Rousey for some of the harsh words she had for her shortly after her 48 second demolition of Rousey at UFC 207 in December. “I was overwhelmed with adrenaline, emotion and hurt at the time,” Nunes said in an Instagram post. “I held so much in during the weeks prior to my fight with Ronda. I might have said or posted some things at the time that I now realize was not the right thing to do. I want to apologize to Ronda, her fans, and mine and the UFC as well. Ronda is an amazing athlete and has done so much for this sport, especially for the women.”
-The final viewership for this past Saturday’s UFC on Fox show headlined by Valentina Shevchenko’s submission win over Julianna Pena was 2.2 million viewers, a slight uptick from the 2.02 million viewers projected by the overnight ratings. Viewership peaked at 3 million viewers for the main event.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Rashad Evans vs. Dan Kelly at UFC 209 on March 4 from Las Vegas.
-Josh Koscheck vs. Mauricio Alonso at Bellator 172 on Feb. 18 from San Jose.