The UFC has decided to return mixed martial arts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the state of Florida appears to be allowing the promotion to return for three nights in May.
The fights will take place at the Jacksonville at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry is also on board. “As we move step-by-step on the path toward economic recovery, we are proud to host these UFC events,” Curry said in a statement.
Fans will not be allowed in the arena and no tickets will be sold.
Florida regulators also appear to be on board with the plan. “Florida’s State Commission and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation have been in continued coordination with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to identify options for bringing the UFC to Florida for upcoming events,” said Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director, Patrick Cunningham. “Florida welcomes the UFC to the Sunshine State, and our commission stands ready to sanction the events to be held on May 9, 13 and 16. Health and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all individuals who are helping to make these events possible.”
The series of fight nights will begin on May 9th, a reschedule of UFC 249 originally slated for April 18th in Brooklyn, NY. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson appear, but Nurmagomedov is currently in his native country of Dagestan and cannot leave due to pandemic restrictions.
Instead the main event will see No 1. ranked contender Ferguson face off against No. 4 Justin Gaethje, with the winner to face Khabib for the title later. The co-main event is bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz.
The preliminary bouts for UFC 249 will be on ESPN and ESPN+, with the pay-per-view main card taking place only on ESPN+. The card includes Greg Hardy, who played six seasons in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.
Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar
Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro
Alexsei Oleinik vs. Fabricio Werdum
Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
Jacare Souza vs. Uriah Hall
Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Charles Rosa vs. Bryce Mitchell
Cards for the shows on May 13th and May 16th are still being created.