Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is gearing up for its highly-anticipated — and expensive — return to action on May 9, 2020, as the Endeavor-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion will stage UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida.
And though Dana White and Co. have received some criticism and backlash for attempting to stage fights during the COVID-19 crisis, the outspoken head honcho is adamant all of the proper safety precautions are in line to ensure that everyone involved with the event will be taken care of.
UFC recently emailed all of the fighters set to compete at UFC 249, as well as the other two events set to go down in Jacksonville on May 13 and May 16, an outline of what to expect when they arrive in “The Sunshine State.” MMA Junkie obtained a copy of the protocol, which you can see below:
- The UFC notified fighters only designated UFC staff members, on-card fighters and their licensed cornermen will be allowed on site.
- Upon arrival at the host hotel, the fighters and their cornermen must take part in mandatory medical screenings and a series of tests. This process will be repeated daily as long as the fighters and teams remain at the hotel. Further testing details will be provided in person upon arrival.
- Teams will then be informed of the weigh-in procedure and given credentials that are required to be worn at all times on the hotel premises.
- Each fighter will be provided with an individual workout room. Mats, mat sanitizer and a personal sauna will be provided.
- The host hotel’s housekeeping staff will be on the premises taking extra precautions to sanitize rooms and provide 24/7 room service.
- The UFC Performance Institute will be providing nutritional and Trifecta culinary support for all of the athletes.
- “Performance-related matters,” defined as injury or illness, can be treated by the onsite medical staff, but massages and flushes will not be.
UFC 249 was originally lined up to take place on April 18 in Lemoore, Calif., but after the state’s governor, as well as ESPN and Disney, stepped in to put a halt to those actions, the promotion was forced to extend its hiatus, which is going on two months now.
But with Florida opening up its doors to the promotion a few weeks after the pay-per-view (PPV) event was shelved, Dana White wasted no time in locking down VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for the week in order to get business going again.
Naturally, the critics are still voicing their displeasure, though the outside chatter hasn’t done much to deter the promotion’s plans to make up for lost time. And as long as the powers that be watching over them don’t object, all systems are go.
The event will feature an interim Lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, while the co-main event will see Henry Cejudo defend his Bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz. Furthermore, Francis Ngannou will face Jairzinho Rozenstruick, while Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis engage in a rematch seven years in the making.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 249 fight card, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To see the full UFC 249: “Ferguson vs Gaethje” fight card click here.