In an effort to promote social distancing, UFC initially informed fighters that it would be skipping the staredowns on Friday following the UFC 249 weigh ins, but then changed course and did, in fact, have the combatants face off ahead of the “Ferguson vs. Gaethje” pay-per-view (PPV) event tomorrow night (Sat., May 9, 2020) on ESPN+ from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Watch the UFC 249 staredown video RIGHT HERE.
“Per fighters on the ground, no photo shoots or face offs this time around,” Ariel Helwani wrote on Twitter. “Also, there will be only two fighters and their corners in locker rooms before their respective fights. Fighters are being asked to report 90 minutes before their fights. Just enough time for USADA, wrap hands and a warm up.”
ESPN has more from UFC executive vice president of operation and production Craig Borsari:
At the official weigh-ins Friday morning, the social-distancing practices required in the arena the following night will be implemented, Borsari said. The UFC operations team will work with fight camps on when each fighter will be coming to the scale, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. local time.
“So we don’t have a big backlog of fighters all coming in at the same time and having dozens of people in a small, confined area,” Borsari said.
Time to bring back the virtual staredown!
You could probably have the face offs from six feet away, but you know there is always some joker who will lose his cool and bumrush his opponent, turning the whole scene into chaos, forcing everyone to get tested all over again.
Insider.com compiled a list of current safety measures:
- It will be behind-closed-doors: There will be no fans at the weigh-in or the arena
- The weigh-in will be timed so athletes and teams can be kept apart
- Fighters and team-members have individual workout rooms at a hotel
- Room service will be 24-hour and left by an attendee’s front door
- Individual workout mats for athletes and trainers will be sanitized
- Fighters have a personal sauna for weight-cutting
- Regular medical screenings which include temperature checks and questions about potential symptoms
- Broadcast team members will be sat on different tables
- Post-fight interviews will not be permitted in the UFC Octagon. The winning athlete will instead be guided to an isolated location and interviewed remotely
- Headsets will be sanitized
- UFC crew will wear personal protective equipment including N95 masks and gloves
- Everyone Octagonside including the referee will wear a mask. The referee may also wear eye protection
- The production crew is reduced from 130 members to approximately 80
- The crew will work in mobile units, separated by plastic partitions
- Social distancing will be practiced by everyone in the arena outside of the Octagon
- Fewer than 20 UFC staff and media will be permitted in the arena at any one time
- Officials could disinfect the cage between each and every fight
Watch this awful video of what the coronavirus swab test looks like.
UFC 249 features the interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, while Khabib Nurmagomedov watches from lockdown in Dagestan. Similarly, top bantamweight contender Jose Aldo will remain on the Brazilian bench as Dominick Cruz steps in on short notice to battle UFC 249 co-headliner Henry Cejudo for the 135-pound belt, currently in possession of “Triple C.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 249 fight card RIGHT HERE, 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 check out the latest and greatest UFC 249: “Ferguson vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.