It’s been a confusing time for mixed martial arts in particular and the world in general as we all grapple with the ramifications of the Coronavirus pandemic that continues to keep non-essential workers on lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of sickness.
Five UFC events have already been canceled and more postponed (details), a historic first in the promotion’s more than 25 years of operation. While lesser UFC Fight Nights were shut down with little consternation, the first big hit for fans came with the original UFC 249, which was originally set to go down on April 18, 2020.
UFC 249 was set to feature Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson for the Lightweight title, a clash between the undisputed No. 1- and No. 2-ranked 155-pound fighters in the world. Adding to the anticipation was the fact that the bout had been made and undone several times. Leading into the pandemic, Dana White made it clear that nothing short of a nationwide stay-at-home order would prevent the fight from happening this time.
Of course, that’s exactly the situation the United States found itself in as April arrived.
Join us as we track the evolution of both the COVID-19’s effect on the world and UFC’s attempted response. White put up one hell of a fight trying to keep the card going, eventually moving the show to native land in an attempt to do a run-around on California’s emergency lockdown guidelines and the state commission’s suspension of all combat sports.
In the end, it took a call from the governor of California to ESPN parent company Disney’s CEO to make UFC “stand down” and wait until the country had a better handle on the outbreak.
Now, UFC is watching and waiting, with the original UFC 249 card essentially chiseled (see it), but being rebuilt as a largely new card set to take place on May 9, 2020, somewhere secret in Florida. Will it go forward? Or will Florida’s decision to re-open select beaches and expand its definition of “essential business” cause a spike in Coronavirus cases that could once again cause the state to go into full quarantine, derailing UFC 249 once again?