UFC announces location for UFC 249, plus two more events for week of May 16

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

The UFC hopes the third time is a charm. It announced via a news release on Friday that an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje would headline UFC 249 on May 9 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Originally scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn with a lightweight championship match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, the coronavirus pandemic forced the card to be moved. The UFC first moved it to Tachi Palace in Lemoore, California, on the same date, with Ferguson slated to fight Gaethje. But when California Gov. Gavin Newsom went to Disney executives and asked them not to broadcast the bout on ESPN, network president Jimmy Pitaro asked UFC president Dana White to postpone the card.

White agreed.

ESPN is in this time and released a statement to Yahoo Sports:

Sports play an important role in people’s lives and can bring moments of escape in challenging times. We look forward to bringing UFC to fans again.

But White immediately began working on a new venue and got a huge break last week when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared professional sports essential businesses.

UFC 249 will be the first of three cards at VyStar, with the others being on May 13 and May 16. The UFC will announce details on those other shows later. It announced that “these events will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance.” UFC 249 will be a pay-per-view card with the preliminaries airing on ESPN.

A bantamweight title fight between Henry “Triple C” Cejudo and former champion Dominick Cruz will serve as the co-main event. A hotly anticipated heavyweight fight between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik is also on the main card.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 14:  A general view of the Octagon prior to the UFC Fight Night event on March 14, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)
A general view of the Octagon prior to the UFC Fight Night event on March 14, 2020, in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry pointed to the economic benefit of having the shows in his city, though without fans in attendance it will be significantly less than it would have been otherwise.

“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,” Curry said. “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.”

One of the issues the UFC faced when trying to do the show at Tachi Palace was regulation. The California State Athletic Commission refused to regulate it and it appeared that it would be regulated by the UFC itself.

But Florida will regulate this card.

“Florida’s State Commission and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation have been in continued coordination with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to identify options for bringing the UFC to Florida for upcoming events,” Florida State Boxing Commission executive director Patrick Cunningham said. “Florida welcomes the UFC to the Sunshine State, and our commission stands ready to sanction the events to be held on May 9, 13 and 16. Health and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals who are helping to make these events possible. With this triple date feature of UFC events coming in May, Florida is continuing to build a strong collaboration with UFC that sets the foundation for more opportunities that we hope UFC will choose to host in our state in the months to come.”

Full UFC 249 card

Main card:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje, lightweights

  • Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz, bantamweights

  • Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, heavyweights

  • Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar, welterweights

  • Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro, heavyweights

Prelims:

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis, welterweights

  • Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexei Oleinik, heavyweights

  • Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey, light heavyweights

  • Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson, strawweights

  • Uriah Hall vs. Jacare Souza, middleweights

Early prelims:

  • Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price, welterweights

  • Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa, featherweights

  • Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey, light heavyweights

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: Tony Ferguson poses for photos during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Tony Ferguson will face Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 249 on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

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