Unified MMA 40 was scheduled to take place tonight, March 14, 2020, in Edmonton, Alta, featuring a heavyweight title fight between Christian Larsen (5-1) and Grayson Wells (5-3), as well as a light heavyweight title bout between Graham Park (7-2) and Neil Berry (9-9).
However, due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the Alberta government implemented a ban of any public gatherings of over 250 people.
This ban forced Unified MMA to postpone Unified MMA 40 to a date that has yet to be determined.
Here’s what several of the fighters that were set to compete on the card had to say on the event being postponed and how it affects them:
“I think the banning of public gatherings was a knee-jerk reaction to the hysteria surrounding the virus. It’s frustrating for the fighters who put the time and effort to have the event pulled from under them. The work is always worth it, but many fighters, myself included, take time away from work for their fight camps, and the financial impact puts everyone back. We can only hope that the panic dies down shortly and the event goes ahead sooner than later. Until then, I’ll keep training and stay ready to fight.”
“My team and I put a ton of work in to prepare for this fight. It sucks putting in months of physical and mental preparation and not being able to put it to work. But it’s not as if I just lose all of that because I didn’t get to fight; I’ve made notable improvements this fight camp and now I’m just being given time to get even better. I completely understand the decision of the commission, Alberta’s chief medical officer, the venue, and Unified. All parties are making this decision for public and fighter safety. I’m sure this wasn’t done lightly. I’m looking forward to the next Unified event when I can have that new 205 belt wrapped around my waist. Thank you to everyone who was going to come and I hope everyone can make it next time. And to everyone else on the card, stay safe and keep training.”
“Obviously, it’s devastating. Over two months I put into this training camp, dieting and getting myself into the best shape I’ve ever been in. Then, minutes before getting to Edmonton, getting the call that the fight is off. It’s heartbreaking. But once you calm down and realize this is bigger than myself, bigger than our fight, that it’s affecting other people in more serious ways, it’s tough to stay upset. I’ll get another shot to fight for the title I’m sure. Just means I get more time to prepare I guess.”
“It’s the third time I’ve had an event or fight fall through in just over a year. It’s tough for everyone involved, but complaining does nothing. I do appreciate the effort to contain this before it gets worse. I wish everyone the best through this tough experience and I hope we can make these fights happen very soon. A few gyms in town have cages, Sunny has a production company, and Fite TV is our platform. The UFC will be doing this and I’ve been vocal about this option. It’s just like fighting on the Contender Series. I’ll fight for free and I’ll do it tomorrow. I want to get to the show; let’s get after it.”
“It sucks the event was canceled, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I was excited to get in the cage and put on a show for the crowd! I know I put in the work this training camp and I’ll just keep working away until things get cleared up.”
I took off six weeks from my work on a drilling rig to fight and expected to be paid, so now I’m pretty broke. I think it was probably just a matter of time before our communist leaders shut the country down. We are seeing shortages just like communist Russia. Hopefully we can turn this country around and get all these thieving socialists out of office, Liberal and Conservative alike. I wouldn’t be surprised if the economy crashed, but that’s what we need most.”
Sterling (Spencer Jebb) Michetti
“It didn’t impact me very much, to be honest. It was an amateur fight, so I was fighting for free because I’m a f**king idiot. I was training hard regardless, and will continue to do so. I’m on board with it; I definitely didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure, but it makes sense. It would probably just take one infected person to ruin everybody’s day.”
“Most who know me know that I work a full-time, physically demanding job. From the time I’m up at 5 a.m., I work all day, go to the gym and train all night, get home, go to sleep at 11 p.m. and doing everything else it takes to be a high-level athlete in between. I dedicate almost 18 hours a day for pretty much the whole duration of my nine-week camp. With multiple other sacrifices included that most of us who do this are familiar with, the cancelation most definitely comes as a severely devastating blow. I’m upset for everyone that was excited for this event, but I also am very understanding of the unfortunate event(s) taking place and all things that were considered into the event being canceled. Thank you to everyone who had purchased tickets in support of me and all the other fighters. Thank you to Unified for maintaining a reputation of what’s best for us as athletes, an organization and the general public. To my fellow savages, train hard, stay safe, stay healthy and hopefully we can all get back together to do this again soon.”
“It sucks. For the love of God, can I just make my pro debut already?”
“Fight camp is not an easy thing to put yourself through, physically or mentally. Sometimes, you feel confident and other times you feel like you’re just getting worse. But you continue to train, continue to diet and continue to think about the fight. Sometimes, during the bad days, you think maybe the fight will get canceled, maybe your opponent will back out, maybe this, maybe that. But you continue to push through, push through injuries, push through mental breakdowns, and push through the food cravings. But to push through and completely finish fight camp, drive all the way and be 20 km outside of Edmonton only to hear the fight is canceled, mentally I just felt lost. I originally felt like everything I just went through was for nothing, when now I know I’m a better fighter because I got another camp under my belt! I was mad, sad, frustrated; nothing about hearing that made me happy. It took me till the next morning to understand there is nothing I can do to change it. It’s out of my control, so I need to stop being mad, and just accept it!! But I can promise you the one thing I never want to hear again is my fight has been canceled!!”
“I can’t be too upset with something that is beyond my control. I know the promotion has the best intentions for the general public and for the fighters who were supposed to fight, but I guess I can debate whether this was the right decision or not for many reasons. As much as I was game, for those who purchased tickets, not only in my hometown of Edmonton, but my workplace family in my new home of Kelowna, there was a full restaurant ready to do anything to share this amazing experience with me. Obviously, my bosses and supporters were understanding of the situation, but in all fairness a lot of time, effort and money was lost for this special night. For that, I am disappointed to let my supporters down and that the show didn’t continue on. This also makes my chances of even having my loving workplace more reluctant to host my live fights in the future. They are my biggest sponsor and, as an amateur fighter, that’s been immensely helpful for me.”
“So, obviously, I’m extremely disappointed we can’t compete, but it’s one of those things that’s out of your control and affects everybody, so you can’t be too ‘woe is me’ about it. It’s frustrating, to say the least, having put so much time and effort into something and then not have the opportunity to showcase your hard work. But you just have to look at it for what it is and, regardless, you got better as a martial artist, and having one more fight camp under your belt is always a good thing. Hopefully things calm down in the near future and we can all start moving forward.”
“This fight camp for Unified 40 was challenging in itself because as people might not know you go through a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s very overwhelming sometimes, especially if you continue to fight actively. You have to push yourself everyday, and some days aren’t as easygoing. You mentally breakdown, and to release that emotion and not have an end result to show how much hard work you put in is very disappointing. I can’t imagine being a professional fighter and sacrificing that time and potential income from your job to train harder and hope you get back some of that money after the fight just to have the fight card cancelled. It must be devastating. I understand the business mindset as to why you couldn’t continue the show without an audience; no one makes any money that way, but in a perfect world I would at least let the fighters compete. I was ready to go to war and show everyone why I should be 3-0 as an amateur. I had something to prove after my last Unified fight.”
“It’s a hard pill to swallow only being a couple days away from the fight. All the fighters worked hard to get to that point and to hear you’re not fighting is devastating. Unfortunately, the world has larger issues at the moment and public safety comes first. I also wish we could fight with no crowd; the amount of time and dedication that goes into fight camp to be told you can’t do what you love is a brutal feeling.”