UFC 249 Marks Return of Live Sports on Saturday, May 9
For the first time since a wave of postponements and cancellations followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, live sports will resume on American soil on May 9 as the Ultimate Fighting Championship prepares for its UFC 249 pay-per-view event.
Originally scheduled for April 18 at the Barclay's Center in Brookyln, New York, the event was initially postponed by order of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. UFC 249 will now take place this Saturday at the VyStar Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The festivities will take place in an empty arena as a Florida executive order allows sporting events to take place during the public health emergency as long as they are closed to the general public.
In the card's main event, current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was scheduled to defend his title against Tony Ferguson, however due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic, Nurmagomedov was unable to attend. An interim lightweight championship bout between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will now be the headline of the event. Presumably, the winner will face Nurmagomedov at a later date to unify the title.
Despite criticism levied at the UFC and its president Dana White for the decision to hold the event amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the fighters were excited and enthusiastic in a recent conference call.
"This is what we bring to the table, man, and we’re going to do our best and we’re going to keep sports alive and that’s what we’re going to do,” Ferguson said via MMAJunkie.
Another UFC championship will be disputed on Saturday as bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defends his belt against two-time former champion Dominick Cruz.
The early preliminary bouts are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN+. The full preliminary card is set for 8 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN. The main card begins at 10 p.m. on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
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The full fight card appears below.
Main Fight Card
Lightweight division: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje (for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship)
Bantamweight division: Henry Cejudo [champion] vs. Dominick Cruz (for the UFC Bantamweight Championship)
Heavyweight division: Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Featherweight division: Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar
Heavyweight division: Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro
Welterweight division: Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
Heavyweight division: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Fabrício Werdum
Women's Strawweight division: Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
Middleweight division: Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza
Early Preliminary Bouts
Welterweight division: Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Featherweight division: Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa
Light Heavyweight division: Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey