On the heels of UFC 232’s last minute relocation from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, the UFC had reportedly considered switching venues for their second UFC show in two months.
However, the potential change of venue for February 2nd’s UFC Fight Night: Fortaleza wasn’t because of discrepancies in a fighter’s drug testing results. Instead, according to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz, the possible move away from Fortaleza was because of a wave of violence that has gripped the city’s state of Ceará.
Ceará is a coastal state located in northeast Brazil. It’s the eighth most populated of Brazil’s 27 states with over 8 million residents. Around half of the state’s population live in and around the capital city of Fortaleza; which has hosted the UFC on two prior occasions.
The trouble that has risked the UFC’s third visit to Fortaleza began in early January when, according to Aljazeera, drug gangs operating inside prisons ordered their non-incarcerated members to commit acts of violence on the streets of Ceará.
It’s alleged that the days of violence were ordered by cartel bosses in reaction to efforts to curtail their business from inside prison. Those measures included cracking down on cellphone use and the relocation of several cartel members to other prisons.
The violent scenes crafted by the cartel included the torching of buses and gun attacks on banks and public buildings. There was even a bomb explosion in the state that has been attributed to the cartels.
Over the past two weeks there were more than 200 attacks in Ceará leading to 400 arrests (per MMA Fighting). Brazilian outlet Globo1 reported that 138 vehicles, 51 public buildings, 13 bridges, and 10 banks have been attacked since January 2nd.
President Jair Bolsonaro (a friend of many a UFC fighter) was recently elected in Brazil thanks, in part, to his promise to respond to violent crime with extreme force. Ceará has presented Bolsonaro with the first opportunity to fulfill that campaign promise.
According to The Guardian five hundred national guard troops have been deployed to the region.
Despite the situation in Ceará, UFC Fight Night: Assuncao vs. Moraes 2 appears to be going ahead at Fortaleza’s Centro de Formação Olímpica (CFO). However, multiple sources told MMA Fighting that a potential move away from Fortaleza had been discussed.
In response to questions from MMA Fighting the Secretary of Sports and Youth of Ceará said that the government will double the security around the CFO during the event.
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