Dubai: The final countdown has begun for this Saturday’s UFC 249, a blockbuster 12-fight MMA showpiece to be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida behind closed doors.
Headlined by the interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje on May 9, the No. 1 and 2 fighters in the world behind the reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, all fighters on the night will be required to pass diagnostic swab and antibody Coronavirus tests conducted by the UFC medial team before they enter the Octagon.
The swab tests, which are rountinely conducted on suspected COVID-19 cases around the world, help determine the active presence of the virus in the body while the anitbody test involves the collection of blood sample to ascertain of the person has been exposed to the virus.
In addition to the tests, all fighters will undergo screening by a UFC PI dietician to monitor their weight and weight-cutting methods and food allergies.
Fighters will receive meals from the UFC through its official meal delivery service.
The UFC’s attention to detail, in light of the pandemic, will help guarantee the safety of all parties.
UFC 249 marks the much-anticipated and although debated return of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) since UFC Fight Night 170: Brasilia was held without public attendance at Sao Paulo on March 15.
On Monday, the UFC advised all fighters of the measures that were being adapted to ensure the safety of one and all due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Stringent guidelines related to nutrition, social distancing and medical treatment safety and precautions, are already being applied with less than four days remaining before all hell breaks loose at the historic Veterans Memorial Arena, which has hosted iconic musical concerts, Olympic basketball matches, Davis Cup tennis events and more.
It will be the first time that the multi-purpose venue, which was built in 2003, will host a UFC event.
Speaking ahead of the fight night that he has worked so hard to bring to fruition, the UFC’s Dana White : “I can’t wait to deliver some great fights for the fans.
“I want to give a big thanks to Mayor Curry, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and Florida State Boxing Commission executive director Patrick Cunningham for getting this thing done and giving us a venue to put on these incredible cards, as well our media partners including ESPN and ESPN+, for bringing it to fans.
“My team is ready to go and the fighters are excited to get back in there with these back-to-back events.”
How to Watch UFC 249
UFC 249 can be watched on ESPN and ESPN+ in the UAE, Middle East and BT Sport 1 in the UK
Early prelims will commence from 2am (May 10) UAE time, with the Main Card scheduled to start at 6am UAE time.
UFC 249 Fight Card
Saturday, May 9
at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida,
Lightweight Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje
Bantamweight Henry Cejudo (c) vs. Dominick Cruz
Heavyweight Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Featherweight Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar
Heavyweight Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro
Preliminary Card (ESPN)
Welterweight Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
Heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik vs. Fabrício Werdum
Women’s Strawweight Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
Middleweight Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza
Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+)
Welterweight Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Featherweight Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa
Light Heavyweight Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey