Ufc 249 ferguson vs gaethje
Courtesy: ESPN.com

UFC 249 – New Coronavirus vs. UFC Issues – The Show Must Go On

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

 

The UFC announced Tuesday that it plans to bring UFC 249 back from the dead and finally hold the event on May 9 in Florida.  Although the promotion was trying to keep the exact location under wraps, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported Thursday that the venue would be the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville

The fight card will be headlined by an interim lightweight championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, who steps in on short notice to replace reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is unable to travel outside of Russia.

In the co-main event, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo will defend his belt against former champion Dominick Cruz, who also steps in on short notice to replace Jose Aldo. Aldo was set to challenge for Cejudo’s belt at UFC 250 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he is now unable to travel to the United States

Women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes was also briefly tied to the newly-revamped UFC 249 card to defend her title against Felicia Spencer. Still, Nunes refused to take the fight on short notice, citing the need for a more extended training camp. 

Nonetheless, given the lack of UFC events in the last five weeks, their schedule has been backlogged, and they now have the luxury of combining several smaller shows into one big comeback show on May 9. 

 

The on-again-off-again fight card has been in limbo for over a month since the global coronavirus pandemic put a stop to sporting events worldwide. 

 

In a scramble to find a location for the event after the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was scrapped, UFC had announced the Tachi Palace Casino in California as the new venue for the event. It was set to take place on its originally scheduled April 18 date. The casino was being sought after due to its being located on tribal land and is thus exempt from California’s stay-at-home order. The plan was for the UFC to hold its next four events at that location without a crowd in attendance. 

Those events, however, would not have been sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, which is not currently licensing functions during the coronavirus lockdown. This would have meant the UFC would have served as its own regulating body, much like it has done in many of its overseas events where there is no formal MMA commission to regulate the fight card.

Those planning stages were all for naught, however, after California Governor Gavin Newsom urged the higher-ups at ESPN to not allow the fight card to take place in his state due to the risk of spreading the deadly virus. The UFC was forced to oblige, and it seemed UFC 249 was officially canceled. 

Then, as desperation began to set in for the UFC, they announced plans to hold events on an undisclosed island and have reportedly filed 22 trademark applications for the name “Fight Island.” 

While the construction of Fight Island is reportedly underway, the UFC, which has been forced to cancel its last four events, looked to the state of Florida to hold its first fight card in nearly two months. Florida governor Ron DeSantis declared sporting events an essential service during the coronavirus lockdown. As a result, the WWE has been holding closed-door events in their Performance Center in Orlando since March, including Wrestlemania 36, which aired earlier this month on tape delay. 

Now, it seems UFC 249 will finally take place with a venue and a local government that is willing to host the live event. 

 

UFC president Dana White has been clamoring to be the first major sports league to hold a live event since the outbreak put a stop to all events last month. This time, it appears he’ll finally accomplish that goal. 

 

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-Leo Schauer – Franchise Sports Media

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