It has been a wild journey, but there will be a major live sporting event in the United States taking place this weekend.
UFC 249 was originally set for April 18, but despite Dana White’s efforts it had to be moved back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused plenty of uncertainty for White and UFC fans as rumors and ideas swirled around about how the UFC would continue on during the lockdowns.
Location, location, location
The show will be the first since March 14 in Brazil, and, just like that one will take place in an empty arena. Jacksonville, Florida – not a private island – will host the event on May 9 along with two additional shows on the 13th and 16th.
But the private island is still happening according to White. Since a few international fighters weren’t able to make UFC 249 because of travel restrictions, White wants to create a place anyone can fly into and fight or train.
“The infrastructure is being put in now,” White told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop. “This place is literally going to be a UFC Fight Island — just like our training facility in Las Vegas, with the UFC Apex next door that can host concerts, comedy, stuff like that. That’s what we’re doing on the island. We’re designing and building it for people to come in and train, with rooms and things like that. The whole island will be laid out just for fighting. Everybody has this image in their mind of Fight Island, like something out of a video game. It will be a lot more modern than that. There won’t be tiki torches or any of that [expletive]. We’re gonna use it a lot until the world gets normal again. We’re gonna need it for our international fights — a place where people can fly in and out easily, without needing a bunch of visas and red tape.”
Unsurprisingly, UFC 249 could draw an unprecedented amount of interest in gambling on the sport. DraftKings and FanDuel have all the prices and props you could need for all 12 fights on Saturday night.
Tony Ferguson (-177 DK) (-174 FD) vs. Justin Gaethje (+150 DK) (+148 FD)
Ferguson has won 12 consecutive fights as his status as the top contender in the lightweight division is on the line. At 36 years old, he hasn’t lost a fight in nearly eight years. Gaethje has become famous for his eventful fights which has earned him his “The Highlight” nickname. With two fighters that often take part in wildly entertaining fights, this one has the potential to be electric.
Henry Cejudo (-220 DK) (-210 FD) vs. Dominick Cruz (+183 DK) (+176 FD)
Cruz will enter the Octagon for the first time in four years to take on Cejudo for the bantamweight title. Cejudo claimed himself as the greatest combat sports athlete of all time. But Cruz will be looking to join Randy Couture as the only athlete to win UFC gold three times in the same division.
Other Notable Fights
Francis Ngannou (-278 DK) (-270 FD) vs. Jairzingo Rozenstruik (+225 DK) (+220 FD)
Two of the top contenders in the heavyweight division will face off in what was originally supposed to be a five-round main event but was shifted to three rounds. These two likely won’t even need three rounds as 23 of their 24 combined career victories have finished with a stoppage.
Greg Hardy (-200 DK) (-205 FD) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+165 DK) (+172 FD)
Hardy always draws increased interest as the former NFL defensive lineman hasn’t failed to make headlines for the wrong reasons still since joining the UFC. He lost his debut with a disqualification from an illegal knee and then had a win overturned after using an inhaler between rounds. But he’s been impressive at times in between, and he’ll need to stick to the rules against the 6-0 De Castro if he wants to move up the totem pole in the heavyweight division.