The UFC have gone to some extraordinary lengths in order to bring us UFC 249 as the Covid-19 outbreak puts paid to almost every other sporting event on the planet meaning the April 18th show will go on after all.
In an unprecedented move UFC President Dana White has done the unimaginable and claimed to have rented a private island where he will host fights starting with UFC 249 and onward for the next two months.
The UFC main event was originally set for a headline slot in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, April 18 but that has had to be changed.
Although the bouts will take place with no spectators in attendance, the fighters, a referee and a team of broadcasters will be there to ensure the show goes on as the rest of the sporting world remains on hold.
“I am a day or two away from securing a private island,” White told TMZ. “I have a private island that I’ve secured; we’re getting the infrastructure put in now, so I’m gonna start doing the international fights, too.
“With international fighters, because I won’t be able to get international fighters into the US, I have a private island that I’m gonna start flying them all in and doing international fights from there. So as of April 18th, the UFC is back up and running. We have all our own planes and everything. They’re gonna fly into the island, get the fighters.”
The hotly anticipated main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson had already bitten the dust four times due to injuries and fighters missing weight and now a global pandemic has seen it cancelled once more with reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov currently trapped in Russia due to the global lockdown.
Posting on Instagram, the Russian revealed: “Currently, I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day, although I don’t know what am I preparing for, because after we came to Russia we also learned that the borders are going to be locked.
“Same as the States, same in Europe, Emirates – everywhere. The whole world is in quarantine right now. So now I am hearing that they are looking to organise it with or without me. OK, go ahead.”
Huge opportunity for Justin Gaethje
As a result, the new main event is between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje and promises to be a rather entertaining contest due to the fact that these two gladiators will stop at nothing to get it on it would appear.
Ferguson is currently in the middle of a 12-fight UFC win streak in the lightweight division, one of the sport’s most competitive, while Gaethje’s last three fights have been completed courtesy of savage first-round knockouts – meaning he’s probably the most dangerous fighter in the division and more than worthy of his big chance.
His selection may have caused a few raised eyebrows at first though, with many feeling that Dustin Poirier, the former interim champion, more than deserved to take the fight, but ultimately, the promotion has gone with Justin Gaethje, who now meets Ferguson for the interim 155-pound belt.
Poirier (25-6 MMA, 17-5 UFC) holds a TKO win over Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) from less than two years ago, but the dilemma is – if he beat Ferguson then pressure would mount on UFC to sanction an immediate rematch with Khabib, a decision he accepts.
“It’s just what happens. It’s business,” Poirier revealed. “I can’t twist their arm and make them do things. Of course I would love to be in there across from Tony, but it’s all good. I’ve just got to fight and win, and everything will resolve itself.”
As well as the main event, UFC 249 also boasts a pretty impressive undercard and despite the cancellation of Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade, the Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik bout sees the two most dangerous heavyweights in the UFC going head-to-head.
TV coverage of the UFC 249 main card will start at 3:00am (UK time) in the early hours of Sunday 19th April 2020 while the preliminary card will be broadcast from 1:00am (UK time).
The event is likely to be shown live on BT Sport but due to the current uncertainty of the event, details are yet to be confirmed.
UFC 249 Fight card
- Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje – Lightweight
- Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas Women’s – Strawweight
- Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro – Heavyweight
- Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price – Welterweight
- Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar – Featherweight
- Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – Heavyweight
- Ronaldo Souza vs. Uriah Hall – Middleweight
- Alexander Hernandez vs. Omar Morales – Lightweight
- Marlon Vera vs. Ray Borg – Bantamweight
- Michael Johnson vs. Khama Worthy – Lightweight
- Sijara Eubanks vs. Sarah Moras Women’s – Bantamweight
- Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey Light – Heavyweight
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