A small number of New Zealand’s top mixed martial artists have said they will comply with a warning from police after a second makeshift training camp was asked to disband.
Top-ranked UFC lightweight fighters Dan Hooker and Brad Riddell, alongside City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman had been training at Hooker’s gym, the Combat Academy, in Ellerslie to prepare Hooker for his fight at UFC 266 in Las Vegas on September 26 (NZ time).
With the fight just three weeks away, Hooker is in the back end of training camp for his bout against dangerous striker Nasrat Haqparast, who has claimed nine of his 13 professional wins by knockout.
In a statement to the Herald, Bareman confirmed they had received a second warning from police this week.
“We have been contacted by Police about a small group of fighters training at Combat Academy. We received a warning and will comply with that warning,” Bareman said.
The set up was put in place after a larger training camp based at Mt Eden’s City Kickboxing was disbanded after a warning from police last week. Several of the gym’s fighters and coaches had volunteered to base themselves at City Kickboxing for level four lockdown to form their own bubble before the level for restrictions came into force in order to prepare Hooker for his upcoming bout.
City Kickboxing spokesperson Mike Angove said last week the gym believed that set up was in compliance with alert Level 4 protocols.
“Since lockdown began we’ve done at least four media interviews where we have mentioned we were in a lockdown camp in the gym – in other words it was no secret, and we were of the understanding we were in compliance with Covid-19 regulations,” he said in a statement after the City Kickboxing bubble was asked to disband.
“On Thursday evening we received a visit from police who advised us that due to a change in interpretation, our lockdown camp no longer complied with lockdown regulations. As a consequence we have disbanded the camp last night to ensure we remain compliant.”
It was the same setup the gym implemented when the country went into level 3 lockdown in 2020. Israel Adesanya, Shane Young, Kai Kara-France and Brad Riddell had UFC bouts to prepare for, so made themselves comfortable on the mats with a handful of others.
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