Some semblance of normality is on its way. Not sure you can call a professional mixed martial arts event in a big empty arena, save for the octagon in the middle, the handful of production staff, the individual fighters and their coaches, as normal. But that is how UFC 249 is going to air, live on ESPN+ (pay per view). No audience, no boos, no cheers.
Hey, considering most of us have torn through the Netflix library, there’s only so many Tik Tok vids you can enjoy in a row, and I’m definitely over-clicking Youtube links to the latest conspiracy video my friends send me only to see “video not available” on the screen (I’m always one step behind those darn censors) we’ll take whatever we can get at this point.
So what’s on tap for UFC 249? Mexican-American contender Tony Ferguson fights Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship, with Henry Cejudo taking on Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight crown. Both scraps should be barn burners.
This event is a huge accomplishment for the UFC, nearly one month after having their first attempt at holding an event (on a Native American reservation in California) canceled. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, did not have the authority to block the fight since he has no jurisdiction over Native land. But, he did have the connections to call the head of ESPN and its parent company Disney and ask them to have the UFC “stand down.”
Fast forward to this weekend, and the UFC has managed to convince the state of Florida to sanction UFC 249. And with no governor calling Disney, the added precautionary procedures, and a public hunger for the kind of escapism a live sporting event can offer, UFC President Dana White has kept his promise to be the “first ones back” with live competition.
Just peep the stare down:
I’m sorry but this brief visual of Henry Cejudo angrily walking around the room with a sack and retrieving his Dominick Cruz face pillows immediately after taking part in a staredown for his big UFC title fight tomorrow has floored me. 😭☠️
— Jordan Patu. (@Jordan_Patu) May 8, 2020