All of the pieces are in play for the UFC to go through with UFC 249 in May. In fact, there will be multiple fight events booked for that month.
The UFC sent out a press release confirming the location of UFC 249. On May 9, the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida will hold the event. Additionally, UFC President Dana White stated the promotion will be producing events on May 13th and 16th inside the same arena. No fans will be allowed in attendance.
“I can’t wait to deliver some great fights for the fans,” White stated. “I want to give a big thanks to Mayor Curry, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham for getting this thing done and giving us a venue to put on these incredible cards, as well our media partners including ESPN and ESPN+, for bringing it to fans. My team is ready to go and the fighters are excited to get back in there with these back-to-back events.”
White told the specifics first to Brett Okamoto of ESPN on Instagram Live. Additionally, he said that “Fight Island” is officially on, and that the octagon will be on a beach. The events on the island will begin sometime in June, and fighters will stay in hotels.
The original UFC 249 in Brooklyn was going to be moved to Tachi Palace, a Native American casino in Lemoore, California due to the coronavirus. Plans changed when the event was postponed. UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov v. Tony Ferguson was the main event of the Barclays Center show. Nurmagomedov backed out of UFC 249 to quarantine, forcing his fight with Ferguson to be postponed again. As a result, the new main event became Ferguson v. Justin Gaethje for the interim Lightweight Title.
The Wrestling Observer first reported the Florida location. Florida is one of the only states that will allow events to take place. Just recently, WWE was deemed an “essential business” in Florida after a ruling by Governor Ron DeSantis. All sports were then deemed essential. This is only if they didn’t have any fans at the events.
“As we move step-by-step on the path toward economic recovery, we are proud to host these UFC events at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “The UFC organization is a renowned entertainment brand that’s presented a safe and sensible plan to use this Jacksonville location, and we are thrilled to have our city highlighted nationally on ESPN and ESPN+. With Jacksonville continuing to outpace other cities and regions, we are excited to continue to lead as host to these world-class, international sports entertainment organizations.”
The UFC Fight Pass Prelims begin at 6:30 p.m. ET. The prelims, headlined by Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis, begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+. Ending it off will be the main card on ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET. The following fights will be taking place on the card:
- Tony Ferguson v. Justin Gaethje – Interim UFC Lightweight Title
- Henry Cejudo (c) v. Dominick Cruz – UFC Bantamweight Title
- Francis Ngannou v. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
- Calvin Kattar v. Jeremy Stephens
- Donald Cerrone v. Anthony Pettis
- Greg Hardy v. Yorgan De Castro
- Aleksei Oleinik v. Fabricio Werdum
- Carla Esparza v. Michelle Waterson
- Ronaldo Souza v. Uriah Hall
- Niko Price v. Vicente Luque
- Bryce Mitchell v. Charles Rosa