BRAWLEY — Mixed martial arts resurrected National sports Saturday, May 9, when Dana White and company rolled out a COVID-19 compliant UFC 249 broadcast at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
After various alterations to the UFC’s usual order of operations, a game plan was pieced together by executives to proceed the pay-per-view fight card.
According to UFC Executive Vice President of Operations and Production Craig Borsari, new measures were put into place as precautionary guidelines in the UFC’s plan to alleviate the risk of running a sports event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No fans were in the stadium, broadcast members were sitting at separate tables away from one another, post-fight interviews did not take place in the Octagon, and all crew members wore personal protective equipment. The production crew was cut to about 80 from roughly 130 and social distancing was practiced in the arena by staff and media members.
As per reports, everyone involved in the event stayed at the host hotel and was tested for COVID-19 before check-in, at which point participants were ordered to self-isolate for 24 hours until results came back.
One fighter’s results, Ronaldo Souza, did return positive for COVID-19 and he was removed from the event and ordered to self-isolate off site.
The 11-bout fight card was eerily silent, as the usual clamor of American sporting fanatic culture was missing. MMA is no stranger to quite venues as PRIDE DSE fight cards were practically soundless in Japan due to the Japanese culture of watching live sporting events like how theater movies are watched in the United States.
R. Span def. S. Alvey by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
B. Mitchell def. C. Rosa by unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-25)
V. Luque TKO (doctor stoppage) over N. Price (round 3)
C. Esparza def. M. Waterson by split decision (27-30, 29-28,30-27)
A. Olenik def. F. Werdum by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
A. Pettis def. D. Cerrone by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
G. Hardy def. Y. De Castro by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
C. Katter KO (elbow + ground & pound) over J. Stephens (round 2)
F. N’Gannou KO (punches) over J. Rozenstuik (round 1)
H. Cejudo TKO (knee + ground & pound) over D. Cruz (round 2)
J. Gaethje TKO (punches) over T. Ferguson (round 5)