It’s been over a month since any of us have watched any live sports. Well Dana White and the UFC feel for you and despite all of the warnings handed out by state and federal officials amidst a global pandemic, UFC 249 will take place on tribal land outside of Fresno, California. The Tachi Palace Casino Resort is owned by the Tachi-Yokut Tribe and is part of the federally recognized Santa Rosa Indian Community, according to the New York Times.
The fight was moved from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York to skirt around the Coronavirus stay at home orders that have blanketed the United States. This is a weird situation with a fair amount of moral ambiguity involved, which is fairly on-brand for the UFC, I suppose.
Let’s Start With The Bad News
UFC 249 won’t feature its original title bout in Tony Fergeson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is locked down in Russia because of the Coronavirus pandemic and can’t make it back into the United States. While Justin Gaethje will step in to kill Khabib’s spot, this is the FIFTH time Fergeson versus Nurmagomedov has fallen through. The MMA world is once again mourning what may be the most important matchup in UFC lightweight history.
We can only assume the UFC is putting the staff and fighters involved through the necessary medical precautions, including Coronavirus testing, but we don’t have any proof of such. The UFC has already held an event with no fans during the pandemic and it was reported that they didn’t test anyone before or after said event. It’s more than a little worrying that the UFC is saying they’re taking the necessary precautions when there is proof of them doing no such thing just a few weeks ago.
It’s also hard to get super excited about an event when The Association of Ringside Physicians has urged all combat sports to be halted until the stay-at-home orders subside. Not to mention, holding UFC 249 on a native American reservation will skirt the recommendations made by the California State Athletic Commission. There’s a lot of gray areas that makes the entire situation worrisome.
The Good News
We get to see live sports! Even with all of the questions surrounding the safety of the fighters, MMA fans can’t help but lick their lips at the fact they’ll see a live fight card in just 10 days.
This card is bonkers. Tony Fergeson, Justin Gaethje, Rose Namajunas, Jeremy Stephens, Francis, Ngannou, and Calvin Kattar will all be fighting on this card. You can’t say the UFC didn’t pull out all the stops as far as the entertainment factor is concerned.
Welcome To Fight Island
If we needed any more proof that the UFC is still an underground sport compared to leagues like the NFL, NBA, and NHL – enter UFC fight island (not the official name). Dana White has secured an island on international waters to host international fights on a weekly basis.
This is like Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series meets a Bloodsport Kumite. White expects fight island to be up and running by May. Whether you’re for this idea or totally against it, it will be fascinating to see how he pulls this one off.
UFC 249 will be streamed on ESPN+ and PPV on April 18.