UFC returns to competition with 3 shows in Florida

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The UFC returned to competition on May 9 for three fanless shows in eight days in Jacksonville, Florida.

The promotion of mixed martial arts announced Friday its intention to resume its activities after having postponed and canceled several shows due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UFC 249 will be held on May 9 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville with no fans. The pay-per-view show will still be featured in Tony Ferguson’s interim fight against Justin Gaethje.

UFC President Dana White also plans to host performances on May 13 and 16 in the same arena in North Florida. Only “essential staff” will be in the arena, according to White.

“I look forward to a great fight for the fans,” said White in a statement. “My team is ready to go and the fighters are delighted to return with these consecutive events. “

The UFC has not been in action since holding a full combat card in an empty arena in Brazil on March 14. But White is determined to return to action while the rest of the sports world remains closed.

UFC 249 originally scheduled for April

UFC 249 was almost held on tribal land in central California on April 18, but the show was postponed on April 9 at the insistence of ESPN and Disney, the broadcast partners of the UFC. Prominent California state officials were opposed to the UFC’s plan to host a show there. However, the promotion plans have satisfied Florida officials, including the Florida State Boxing Commission, which regulates MMA in the state.

“The organization UFC is a renowned entertainment brand that has presented a safe and sensible plan to use this Jacksonville location, and we are delighted that our city is being promoted nationally,” said the mayor of Jacksonville. , Lenny Curry.

ESPN also agrees with White’s current plan, according to a statement published by the network: “Sport plays an important role in people’s lives and can bring moments of escape in these difficult times. We can’t wait to bring the UFC back to the fans. “

Precautionary measures in place

The UFC has released a brief statement on its health and safety precautions for shows in Florida. The promotion states that all athletes and staff will be required to “take a number of precautionary measures, such as participating in advanced medical examinations and temperature checks and following social distancing guidelines.” “

UFC 249 will feature two title fights, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defending his belt against former champion Dominick Cruz. The card also includes a heavyweight fight between contenders Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, as well as a confrontation between veteran contenders Anthony Pettis and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

Only a few UFC fighters expressed concern over White’s determination to continue fighting in the midst of the pandemic, and most were publicly eager to return despite global health concerns. MMA fighters are traditionally not paid unless they compete, although Bellator and other promotions have helped their fighters in the last few weeks after they closed.

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