JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — UFC President Dana White nonetheless needs “Struggle Island.”
He’s quickly settling for a peninsula — and needed to name off a bout after a fighter examined positive for the coronavirus.
UFC 249 will function the primary main sporting occasion to happen for the reason that pandemic shut down a lot of the nation practically two months in the past. The bouts Saturday night time in Jacksonville — the primary occasion is about for pay-per-view — are anticipated to attract a big viewing viewers contemplating the sports-craved nation has seemingly grown drained of replays and online game occasions.
There’s nothing digital in regards to the actuality of getting punched within the face.
“Proper now there isn’t a Olympics. There isn’t any Wimbledon. There isn’t any NBA drafts. No NFL drafts,” mentioned light-weight contender Tony Ferguson. “There isn’t any (expletive) tennis. There isn’t any soccer, hockey. There isn’t any baseball. This what we convey to the desk man and we’re going out there and do our greatest and we’re going to maintain sports activities alive.”
Extra like convey sports activities again to life.
Ferguson (25-3) and fellow light-weight contender Justin Gaethje (21-2) will headline the combined martial arts card behind closed doorways at Veterans Memorial Enviornment.
“That is going to convey a way of normalcy to folks,” Gaethje mentioned. “Proud to be an element of it, you already know the chance to encourage. Individuals must be impressed proper now. They should not let themselves develop into depressed, emotional as a result of they’ll’t management what’s going on proper now.
“We have now obtained to experience it by means of, and so they must be impressed in a approach and we are able to do this. We have now the chance.”
Jacaré Souza, examined positive Friday. His middleweight bout towards Uriah Corridor was known as off. Souza’s two cornermen additionally examined as positive, the UFC mentioned in a press release.
“All three males have left the host lodge and can be self-isolating off premises, the place UFC’s medical workforce will monitor their situations remotely and can present help with any mandatory remedy,” the UFC mentioned.
The UFC is returning after an involuntary eight-week break that upended White’s want to maintain combating amid the COVID-19 well being disaster. The sequence is holding three exhibits in eight days in a fan-free enviornment in Florida, the place state officers deemed skilled sports activities with a nationwide viewers exempt from a stay-at-home order so long as “the situation is closed to most people.”
The UFC got here up with a 25-page doc to deal with well being and security protocols. UFC executives and physicians consulted regulatory officers and outdoors specialists to develop its procedures, which embody testing everybody working the occasion.
These in attendance, maybe even referees, must put on masks and gloves. The cage ground, inevitably sprinkled with sweat and blood, can be disinfected repeatedly.
“It’ll be far more of an intimate state of affairs, as bizarre as that sounds,” Gaethje mentioned. “The followers are going to get to listen to the photographs once we land our photographs. They will hear the respiration. They will hear the speaking from the coaches. … I can’t wait to observe this struggle when it’s over as a result of I do know that it can not disappoint.”
The undercard can be broadcast on ESPN, whose most up-to-date stay sports activities have been lowered to Korean baseball and cornhole.
Different fights on the cardboard embody:
—Henry Cejudo (15-2) will defend his UFC bantamweight champion towards former titleholder Dominick Cruz (22-2).
—Francis Ngannou (14-3) fights undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0) in a heavyweight bout.
—Jeremy Stephens (28-17) and Calvin Kattar (20-4) in a matchup of featherweight contenders.
—Former NFL defensive finish Greg Hardy (6-2) towards unbeaten Yorgan De Castro (5-0) in one other heavyweight bout.
—And Donald Cerrone (36-14) takes on Anthony Pettis (22-10) in a welterweight struggle.
UFC 249 was initially scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The following two main occasions — UFC 250 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and UFC 251 in Perth, Australia — have already got been postponed as a result of of the worldwide pandemic.
White, in the meantime, continues to work to attempt to stage worldwide bouts on a non-public island.
Unbeaten light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov initially was slated to struggle Ferguson for the light-weight title, however journey restrictions compelled Nurmagomedov to get replaced by Gaethje.
Ferguson and Gaethje will vie for the title of “interim light-weight champion.”
“You can be acknowledged because the No. 2 man on the planet,” Ferguson mentioned. “Khabib can’t struggle proper now, so these are the 2 baddest males on the planet on this weight class combating this weekend for the proper to name themselves the perfect after which in the end problem Khabib.
“I believe we’re combating for the chance to symbolize America towards Khabib and that’s what I’m combating for.”