UFC President Dana White has been on a mission to be the first live sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in the United States. He has unsuccessfully tried to host UFC 249 a few different times over the past weeks, but it appears that it will finally take place. White has announced that UFC 249 will officially take place on May 9.
Not only did White announce that this highly anticipated event would finally take place, but he also announced that there will be two other events hosted the following week. There will also be UFC fight cards on May 13 as well as May 16.
All three of the events will take place at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. Fans will not be allowed to attend any of the three events to follow health and safety guidelines. White has thrown out the idea of purchasing a private island to host UFC events during the pandemic, but he was able to secure a location in Florida.
The idea of “Fight Island” is still being discussed by White, and he hinted that it could take place in June. If “Fight Island” was a go, it would likely feature international fights as several international fighters are unable to get back into the United States due to travel restrictions. White has noted in the past that this idea is extremely expensive, but he is willing to pay to bring some entertainment to the UFC fans.
UFC 249 Card
The top fight of the night at UFC 249 will be an interim lightweight championship fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Ferguson was supposed to be taking on Khabib Nurmagomodev in a title fight at this event, but Nurmagomedov is unable to leave his home country of Russia. Gaethje was chosen as a replacement, and he will be the underdog in this fight.
Ferguson is considered to be the top challenger in the lightweight division, but he will not have a chance to win the belt this time around. Gaethje is regarded as the fifth-ranked challenger in the lightweight division, but he could move up in the ranks with an upset win in this fight. The winner of this fight will have the chance to take on Nurmagomedov, who is expected to be back fighting at some point in September.
White confirmed that he has 10 other fights lined up on the card for UFC 249, including a title fight in the bantamweight division. Champion Henry Cejudo (15-2) will be looking to retain his title when he takes on Dominick Cruz, who is currently 22-2.
Donald Cerrone will be taking on Anthony Pettis in a welterweight fight that will highlight the preliminary card. The event is set to begin at 6:30 pm Eastern Time and will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+. The main card can be seen on ESPN+ pay-per-view beginning at 10 pm ET.
Not As Restrictive
While most states have placed extreme restrictions on live sports taking place, that is not the case in the state of Florida. Florida has determined that professional sports are an essential service and have decided to let them take place. Fans cannot be in attendance at any of the live sporting events.
The Florida State Boxing Commission has agreed to sanction the fight, and they will work to ensure that all health and safety protocols are met. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced in a statement that the city is proud and excited to host these three UFC events.