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Mixed Martial Arts

The circus of UFC 249 ends not with a bang but with a whimper



After weeks of the UFC promising fights in spite of mounting public health concerns, the circus that was UFC 249 finally came to an end.

Just two days before UFC 249 was officially canceled and the UFC announced it would suspend all events indefinitely amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dana White had convinced MMA fans far and wide that yes, UFC 249 and other events would move forward as scheduled, all taking place on a newly-purchased and mysteriously secret private island. “Fight island,” would be the safe haven for the essential activity of cage fighting for the foreseeable future. This was the bizarre peak of a weeks-long circus orchestrated by the UFC and its efforts to stage events despite essentially all sources of authority advising against it.

The UFC’s attitude of defiance toward public health self-isolation orders started less than a month ago when, on March 14, the promotion held an event in Brasilia, Brazil in an empty stadium. By that time, most major sports leagues, including the NBA and NCAA basketball, had suspended all games. As much of North America settled into what would be weeks isolation, the UFC held an event complete with ring card girls strutting before empty seats.

During the UFC Brasilia broadcast, the UFC advertised its UFC London event, scheduled for the following week. Somehow, someway, the UFC and White promised the show would go on, and it would go on in London.

A day later, fans learned that the show would go on, but in a yet-to-be-determined location somewhere in the western hemisphere. Headlining British fighter Leon Edwards was asked to get to anywhere in the United States and on three hours’ notice. He declined.

One more day later, and despite guarantees otherwise, the event formerly known as UFC London was canceled. But, White promised, UFC 249, scheduled to be headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson would absolutely happen, just not in New York, where COVID-19 has hit particularly hard.

Several more days later, Nurmagomedov explained that he was in Russia, and due to travel restrictions, he would not be able to leave the country for his fight with Ferguson. The Nurmagomedov/Ferguson fight was canceled for an amazing fifth time.

But White and the UFC refused to give in. As UFC 249 and it’s scheduled date of April 18 approached, the circus found itself in full swing. Death tolls in the US continued to rise, hospitals stretched thin, and governments advised against any non-essential activities. Still, White promised that fights would go on.

On April 6, White announced that the No. 4-ranked lightweight, Justin Gaethje, would meet Ferguson for the interim title at UFC 249, which was definitely happening “somewhere on EARTH!!!”

The next day, White dropped what felt like a bomb in the entertainment-deprived world. “Somewhere on earth” meant a private island where the UFC would hold fights for weeks on end, skirting those pesky public health regulations in the process.

As perfect as “fight island” sounded, it might have been too perfect. On April 8, news broke that the UFC had secured the Tachi Palace Casino in California as a venue for the next several weeks of fights. Every precaution will be taken, White promised, but cage fighting, of course, must continue.

In what felt like a harbinger of things to come, Rose Namajunas, scheduled to compete in the co-main event of UFC 248, pulled out of the event. Shortly after, her manager announced that Namajunas withdrew in light of two family deaths resulting from COVID-19.

On Thursday, the circus came to an end. There was no Ferguson vs Gaethje title fight, no Andrade vs TBA, no fights at all. After all of the steadfast but false promises, White and the UFC were forced to pull the plug, their bosses at Disney quietly informing them that it was over. Pack up the circus tents.

An uncharacteristically solemn White announced the decision in an interview with ESPN, noting that it was out of his hands. With that, the saga of UFC 249 ended, in the memorable words of TS Eliot, not with a bang but with a whimper.

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Next: 15 UFC rematches we’d like to see

Mixed Martial Arts

Here’s all the fights in discussion for the proposed May 9 UFC event



The UFC is intending to return on May 9, and here are all the fights that look to be happening on that card.

About a week after UFC 249 and all future UFC cards were deemed postponed, the UFC is attempting to end its forced hiatus quickly with a card on May 9 at a location still to be determined.

Per a report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC president Dana White has stated the promotion is looking to return on May 9 and get back on schedule.

Despite the global coronavirus pandemic forcing an empty arena for UFC Brasilia last month, as well as the scraping of UFC London, UFC Columbus and UFC Portland, White and company looked to continue on holding events — including events such as UFC 249 and UFC 250, the latter of which was originally scheduled for May 9, to be hosted at the Tachi Palace in Lemoore, CA.

White was eventually asked to stand down by the heads of Disney and ESPN (ESPN, the UFC’s broadcaster, is a Disney property).

Proposed fights for the May 9 card include the following:

Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje (interim UFC lightweight championship)

As the classic tale has gone, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were booked to face one another at UFC 249 before things fell apart: UFC 249 was forced out of Brooklyn and then Nurmagomedov got stuck in Russia on lockdown before the whole event was postponed thanks to the coronavirus.

Before the event’s postponement, however, an interim championship bout between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje was announced as the new main event. Ferguson has won 12 straight, and with a win, he will become the first UFC fighter to win interim gold twice in the promotion. Gaethje, currently ranked No. 4 at lightweight, has won three straight in the first round and has earned post-fight bonuses in each of his six Octagon bouts so far.

Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer (UFC women’s featherweight championship)

Before UFC 250’s postponement, Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer was scheduled to serve as the co-main event of UFC 250.

Nunes has won 10 straight, winning the UFC women’s bantamweight championship at UFC 200 and defending it five times thus far. This, however, marks her first defense of the UFC women’s featherweight title since scoring a shocking, first-round knockout of Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 to become the first female champ-champ in UFC history.

Spencer, the former Invicta featherweight champion, got an upset first-round submission of Megan Anderson in her Octagon debut last year before going the distance in a loss to Cyborg. She successfully returned at UFC Norfolk in February, finishing Zarah Fairn Dos Santos in the first round of their bout.

Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC bantamweight championship)

Henry Cejudo vs. Jose Aldo was the originally booked main event for UFC 250, but Aldo was forced off the card when the event was moved from Brazil. On that same day, Dominick Cruz was reported to be Aldo’s replacement.

This will mark Cejudo’s first defense of the UFC bantamweight championship since winning it last year at UFC 238 to become the fourth champ-champ in UFC history.

Cruz came over to the UFC from the WEC as bantamweight champion, but after 2011, several injuries and surgeries forced him to vacate the UFC title in early 2014. Cruz successfully regained the championship against TJ Dillashaw in January 2016 and retained it against Urijah Faber at UFC 199 before losing to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Another string of injuries has forced Cruz to the sidelines again since the Garbrandt loss.

Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Francis Ngannnou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, a bout of heavyweight contenders, was originally booked for the main event of UFC Columbus on March 28. When that event was canceled, it was scheduled to be the televised prelim headliner for UFC 249 before that event was postponed.

Ngannou was a quickly rising star in the heavyweight division before losing a title shot against Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 and competing in one of the worst bouts in UFC history at UFC 226 against Derrick Lewis. Since then, however, he’s bounced back with three straight first-round knockouts, defeating Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

Rozenstruik made his UFC debut in 2019 and earned his way to being FanSided MMA’s Rookie of the Year. After disposing Junior Albini, Rozenstruik knocked out Allen Crowder in six seconds before taking out Andrei Arlovski at New York’s Madison Square Garden at UFC 244. He then competed on short notice against Alistair Overeem and was seconds away from losing before delivering a last-second, come-from-behind knockout to stay undefeated.

Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis

After announcing White’s statement and the four previously potential fights, Okamoto added that a welterweight bout between fan-favorites Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis has been verbally agreed to.

Cerrone returned to the lightweight division in 2019 and scored wins over Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta before suffering TKO losses to Ferguson and Gaethje. He then returned to 170 to face Conor McGregor in the Irish superstar’s return at UFC 246, losing in 40 seconds by TKO.

Pettis, the former UFC lightweight champion, had a successful welterweight debut against Stephen Thompson last year before a loss to Nate Diaz in his return at UFC 241. Pettis also competed at UFC 246, getting submitted by Carlos Diego Ferreira in a lightweight bout.

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Mixed Martial Arts

What are the odds the UFC returns to action on May 9?



The UFC may return sooner than originally anticipated, with president Dana White currently building a massive card for May 9.

UFC president Dana White is not backing down anytime soon. White announced that they are looking for the fighters to return to action, with May 9 being the current target date. Although no location has been confirmed, there are very few options at this point considering the Coronavirus has states on lockdown, as well as large gatherings banned from occurring.

The proposed card at this time is extremely solid, and would be spearheaded by three massive fights. According to tweets from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will look to meet after UFC 249’s cancellation last week, with bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo taking on former titleholder Dominick Cruz. Cruz has not fought since December of 2016. Cejudo was originally scheduled to take on Jose Aldo at  UFC 250 in Brazil.

Another title fight would see double-champ Amanda Nunes return to featherweight to face top contender Felicia Spencer.

A new addition to the previously made matches would be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at 170 lbs. The fight has been agreed to and will take place on May 9 should the event actually take place.

Listed below are the odds that the UFC will return on May 9, 2020.

Betting odds are courtesy of Bovada. Odds listed below reflect the lines at the time of publication of this article and are subject to change.

Yes: +275

No: -450

For those unfamiliar with betting odds, “No” is currently the favorite at -450, with “Yes” being the underdog at +275.

This announcement comes not long after the WWE was considered an “essential business” by the Florida Governor’s office. After a failed attempt at hosting UFC 249 in California earlier last week, it would seem the next logical step would be to see if the state of Florida is a viable location to host events. UFC 249 was scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 18  from the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA, but was canceled after top executives at Disney told Dana White to “stand down”.

With the stay at home orders still in effect for the foreseeable future, it seems the odds provided by Bovada accurately reflect the current situation. However, don’t be surprised if the odds for “Yes” start creeping down from +275. If the WWE and UFC are successful, expect other sporting organizations to make their way down to the sunshine state in the near future.

Although the UFC’s target date is May 9, no location has been confirmed yet.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Dana White ‘adamant’ to get UFC back up and running on May 9



Here are the potential bouts that are being planned for May 9

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gathje (scheduled previously for UFC 249)
  • Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer (scheduled previously for UFC 250)
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz (scheduled previously for UFC 250)
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
  • Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (scheduled previously for UFC 249)

At press time there was no location or event name announced, but it’s likely the UFC will head to Florida after a failed attempt at holding a card in California. The promotion had withheld the location for their UFC 249 card but when news spread they were to hold in on tribal lands in California a call from Gavin Newsom was made to Disney, the owner of ESPN the UFC’s broadcast partner, White was forced to cancel the event.

Clearly, he hasn’t given up holding something.

We will update this story as more information is made available so check back often.

The event is set to take place on Saturday, May 9, 2020, live from a location to be determined.

Next: Fans split over UFC 249 cancellation

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