By Philip O'Connor
, (Reuters) - After several recent cancellations due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has announced its comeback with three fight cards in the space of a week at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
The first event will be the postponed UFC 249 card which was originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, New York, on April 18. The main event will feature a much-anticipated interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, and there will also be a matchup between current holder Henry Cejudo and former champ Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight belt.
"I can’t wait to deliver some great fights for the fans," UFC President Dana White said in a statement on Friday
UFC 249 will be followed with two more cards on May 13 and May 16, the statement said, although details of those cards were not released.
The UFC said the events will be closed to the public and will take place with only essential personnel in attendance.
"Health and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all individuals who are helping to make these events possible," the Florida State Boxing Commission's executive director, Patrick Cunningham, said in a statement. "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."
The mixed martial arts organisation has not staged a card since a March 14 event in Brazil, and a previous effort to hold the UFC 249 card was abandoned after the organisation came under pressure from Walt Disney Co, owners of broadcast partner ESPN, to postpone the event as the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Matthew Lewis)