This is not a drill, nor is it a belated April Fool’s joke:
The UFC will officially return to live action in just two weeks’ time with the new UFC 249, becoming the first United States sports organization to return to normal activity in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prior to the new UFC 249, the last UFC card to be held was the March 14 UFC on ESPN+ 28, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil without fans or credentialed media at the venue due to the pandemic and its associated social distancing protocol going into effect.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the MMA promotion’s return on Friday during an Instagram Live stream hosted by ESPN, saying:
“They want to fight. People are hitting us up and want to fight. We’re putting together three cards in a week. People who want to fight are going to get fights.”
As previously mentioned in a Friday afternoon article on this Website, the new UFC 249 will be held inside Jacksonville’s Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena and is closed to the general population.
In addition to the UFC 249 card, the UFC will hold two Fight Night cards in Florida in the days following UFC 249 on May 13 and 16—both also will be held in Jacksonville at the same venue—with fights for those events being announced in the near future.
That May 13 UFC Fight Night is the first Wednesday night show from the promotion since the July 13, 2016 FS1 UFC Fight Night from Sioux Falls, SD at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
All three of these upcoming events will be sanctioned by the Florida Boxing Commission.
Along with the three Florida cards, the UFC will hold a May 23 show at an undisclosed venue.
The Florida events will take place thanks to an exception made to the state’s stay-at-home order by Gov. Ron DeSantis, permitting live sporting events and national television productions as essential business.
UFC 249 will feature a makegood of the UFC Interim Lightweight title fight in the main event between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
This title fight was to have taken place last weekend at the original UFC 249 before the event was canceled two weeks ago due to the pandemic.
On the Instagram Live, Dana White also confirmed that the winner of the Ferguson vs. Gaethje bout will receive a guaranteed bid at the UFC Lightweight championship later this year in a unification bout vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“Ferguson vs. Gaethje will be one of the most violent fights you’ll ever see, I can guarantee that.”
In the co-main event of UFC 249 on May 9, a UFC Bantamweight title fight matching Henry Cejudo with Dominick Cruz will occur.
All told, UFC 249 will feature 12 fights.
The undercard will be aired as a live simulcast on ESPN and ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. PT — with main card action beginning at 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
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