UFC set to return to normal operations following 249
The coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc within the sports world and beyond for a number of weeks now. It’s disrupted the flow and normalcy of pretty much everything that we were once used to.
But there is one man in combat sports who hasn’t stopped fighting the virus. It seems like Dana White has not rested since the UFC London event got canceled last month and it looks like he may finally be nearing a compromise to get fights going again.
It was announced yesterday, April 6, that the long awaited UFC 249 card will be going ahead in just under two weeks time. Unfortunately, for the fifth time, Khabib vs. Ferguson will not take place. Due to some miscommunication, Khabib is now stuck in Dagestan and unable to get into the U.S. But White clearly has been working. The UFC boss has been relentless in his attempts to try and make this event happen, and as of right now, it will.
The ever reliable and always game Justin Gaethje is set to step in for Khabib and face Ferguson in an Interim Lightweight Championship bout to headline the event rumored to be set to take place at the Tachi Palace Resort Casino. The venue is in an Indian reservation. It has its own set of rules and commission meaning the U.S. governing bodies cannot get interfere with anything going on there.
Gaethje of course has been campaigning for a title shot for quite some time and it is no surprise to see him jump at the opportunity to get his first crack at UFC gold. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Gaethje has around 13 pounds of weight to shed to meet the championship limit and is in high spirits ahead of the blockbuster clash against Ferguson.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) April 6, 2020
The biggest question mark amongst all of this was certainly Ferguson’s involvement. The 36-year-old was in a position where he did not have to take a replacement fight and could have just waited it out for another date with the 155-pound champ. But that’s not very like “El Cucuy,” is it? Ferguson held out from committing to a bout until a venue was set in stone, and once White struck a deal with Tachi Palace, Ferguson put pen to paper.
White claims that he has a deal with the California based venue for the next two months, allowing him essentially to do whatever he wants. The UFC boss claimed in another interview with Okamoto that he wants to “pump out events every week” following a hopefully successful trial run with 249.
Elsewhere on the card, a rematch between two former Strawweight champions Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade is also set to take place, along with a true heavyweight collision between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The card that White and his matchmakers have been able to put together for April 18 is exceptional under normal circumstances. So, if we take into consideration what’s been going on globally, this card is set to be an absolute treat for all fight fans.
— UFC (@ufc) April 7, 2020
The biggest fear right now, naturally, is the health and safety of all people that are going to be involved with the event. But White is adamant that everything is under control and that there will be frequent testing and of course no audience in attendance in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly and all fighters and staff are cleared to participate in the event safely.
White also revealed that he is close to securing a private island on foreign waters in order to resume operations with international fights for the part of his roster that cannot gain entry into the U.S. White claims that following UFC 249 his company will be back up and running as smoothly as it was before the Coronavirus caused madness. There was a lot of confidence behind that statement, too.
The UFC boss was the last major promoter to go down swinging to the virus and now he is the first to try and bring normalcy back into the lives of fighters, staff and fight fans. His efforts have been admirable and it’s going to be interesting to see if his plans are successful in the foreseeable future.
Check out Dana White’s full exclusive interview with ESPN below:
Sports journalist based in CA, USA.