One of the promoters of an upcoming mixed martial arts fight card that was scheduled for later this month in Pictou County is upset the event had to be postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
"It was definitely heartbreaking," said Derek Clarke, the president and promoter of Fight League Atlantic. "We had received full sanctioning for this event, paid all of our sanctioning fees and all of our athletes were double vaccinated."
Clarke said the pandemic has held up the sport over the last year and a half. Fight League Atlantic was excited to finally get the green light to host a fight night on Sept. 25 at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
An email from Mickey MacDonald, the chairman of the Nova Scotia Combat Sports Authority, in August said the event had been sanctioned.
But Clarke's excitement came to a crashing halt when another email from MacDonald arrived on Sept. 1.
"After much consideration and consultation with our Authority's Chief Medical Advisor about the uncertainty of a 4th wave of COVID-19 and with the recent increase of cases across Canada, we have decided that it is in the best interests of all concerned to cancel all Combat Sports events until at least January 1, 2022," the email stated.
The change in direction caught Clarke, and several local fighters who were training for the card, off guard.
"You train hard and you put the time and effort and money into it to compete and then all of a sudden it's cancelled," said Alex Thompson, who was set to make his MMA debut. "All of that work seemed wasted."
Tickets for the event were selling quickly after it was sanctioned.
"We had close to 700 tickets sold in just over one week," said Clarke.
MacDonald said the decision to cancel mixed martial arts events in Nova Scotia was one his organization did not take lightly. He said protocols are being worked on to keep medical staff safe. That includes doctors assigned to the cards.
"The last thing we need to do is put more of a burden on our doctors because of stress and strain," said MacDonald. "They have hundreds, if not thousands, of patients depending on them to look after them and if a doctor gets COVID or gets exposed to it then it not only puts him out of action, it puts his whole clinic out of action."
While fans and fighters were disappointed with the decision, several of the fighters, including Thompson, have quickly pivoted. They are being welcomed for a fight card scheduled to be held on Oct. 16 at the Moncton Coliseum.
"It's very discouraging for fighters in this province to have to go outside of their own province to fight," said Clarke. "It's not right what is happening and these athletes deserve better."
Clarke said the decision to cancel the Pictou County event and any other MMA events in Nova Scotia until 2022 isn't fair.
He said the Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Eagles, along with sports teams in many other leagues, are allowed to play.
Those teams can now play with full arenas because the Nova Scotia government is set to move into its final reopening phase next week.
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