This weekend, live sports came back on the scene with a BANG – and sadly, Tony Ferguson was on the other side of that BANG. This past Saturday, UFC 249 went off without a hitch in front of no audience members and limited personnel. No interviews were done in the ring, and crew members were wearing protective gear including N95 masks and latex gloves.
— Pat Egan (@Pat_Egan) May 10, 2020
While it was a bit strange in the beginning, the action and energy in the room ended up being comparable to a fight with thousands of fans. The intensity was front and center. You could hear every sound, every punch as crisp as the morning dew. It actually felt like more of a performance – a violent balet, if you will. (You won’t!)
45 got on the virtual mic to start things off and gave a speech congratulating Dana White on finally pulling off this live sporting event. White had tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to host an event on Native American land in California, but backed down due to repeated requests from Governor Gavin Newsom.
Oddly, because there was no audience to muffle the announcers, their critiques radiated throughout VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. As such, the fighters could hear all the announcing perfectly, in real time, as they were fighting. Former NFL star Greg Hardy (who won his fight) said he was actually taking suggestions from the announcers who were offering up different moves while he was in combat.
And of course, in the biggest fight of the night, Justin Gaethje TKO’d Ferguson in the final round to win the interim title belt. According to many, it was the best fight of his entire career. Gaethje is now gunning for Khabib Nurmagomedov on a quest to take away his lightweight championship belt. Only time will tell…
PHOTO: Jasen Vinlove – USA TODAY Sports