A fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was scrapped for the FIFTH TIME, but UFC 249 is going ahead with Justin Gaethje stepping in for Khabib.
Is UFC 249 Still Happening?
Yes… but it has been quite the rollercoaster ride!
UFC 249, headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson, was set to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn back in March, but New York State rules on large public gatherings left the UFC and New York State Athletic Commission with no other option but to abandon plans to host the event at the venue next month. Surely that would persuade the UFC and company president Dana White to decide against pressing ahead with this highly-anticipated lightweight title fight that has been years – and I mean YEARS – in the making? Of course not.
“I do [now where the venue is],” White said. “But I’m not ready to tell you yet. I know lots of things. There’s not going to be any fans there. It’s going to be a closed event. Trust me, Khabib has been telling me every day, ‘Send location’. I have it. It’s 99.9 per cent. On April 18, we are having this fight.
“Everybody who is going to be involved in this thing is going to be because they want to be, not because they have to be or they have to do anything. Believe me. We didn’t just start thinking about safety when the coronavirus popped up. Health and safety, these are things that normal businesses that are out there right now don’t necessarily have to think about on a daily basis. Healthy and safety is something we’ve been doing long before the coronavirus and we’ll be doing it long after the coronavirus is gone. This is just normal for us.”
However, White’s bid to finally stage this fight was then ruined due to Russia closing its borders for the time being.
“[The UFC] said that it was 99% that the fight would happen in Abu Dhabi,” Khabib told fans during an Instagram live video. “After talking to the UFC we decided to fly over to the United Arab Emirates a month before the fight, but when we landed we learned that they are going to close borders and that nobody would be able to leave or fly in to the country, except for residents.
“We had to fly back to Russia. Currently I am in Dagestan and I am training and preparing every day. Although I don’t know what I am preparing for because after we came to Russia, we also learned that the borders are going to be locked, like in the United States, Europe… everywhere.
“I am hearing that they are looking to organise UFC 249 with or without me. Go ahead. I am not against it, I know that fighters need to feed their families and pay their bills. I know how hard it is for the fighter. Unless they fight they aren’t getting any money. I am even hearing that they are looking for an opponent for Tony, because he is in the States and I am here in Russia.”
That marked the FIFTH TIME that the most snake-bitten fight in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship had to be cancelled, but undeterred by this the UFC pressed ahead with hosting an event and it was soon announced that Justin Gaethje would step in and face Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight championship.
That plan was then shelved after broadcast partners urge UFC president White to back down from his plans, but it did not stay on the shelf long. Florida’s decision to deem sports ‘essential’ gave the UFC the green light to resume holding fight cards and it was soon confirmed that UFC 249 would take place in the state on May 9 – kicking off a run of three events at the same venue in the space of one week!
When Will UFC 249 Take Place?
UFC 249 will finally take place on Saturday, May 9. The undercard will begin at approximately 23:00 BST, with the main card set to get underway at approximately 03:00 BST in the early hours of Sunday, May 10.
Where Is UFC 249 Being Held?
The arena in Brooklyn and a casino on tribal land in California have all been slated to host this event at one time or another, but now we know for certain (fingers crossed) that UFC 249 will finally take place at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on May 9 after the state deemed sporting events to be ‘essential’, giving the UFC the green light to start holding fight cards again.
“I can’t wait to deliver some great fights for the fans,” said UFC president Dana. “I want to give a big thanks to Mayor Curry, 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 as our media partners 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.”
Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje UFC 249 Predictions & Tips
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What Is The UFC 249 Undercard?
Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje will get most of the attention leading up to UFC 249, but it is a stacked UFC 249 undercard featuring some big fights across several divisions, including a UFC bantamweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz.
There is a heavyweight throwdown between two devastating strikers in Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, while there is also a return to action for Greg Hardy on the UFC 249 undercard, with the former NFL player scheduled to face Yorgan De Castro.
Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis are slated to go head-to-head in what is sure to be an entertaining welterweight clash, Carla Esparza and Michelle Waterson meet in an important women’s strawweight contest and Uriah Hall takes on Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza in an intriguing battle of middleweights looking get back in the title picture.
UFC 249 Undercard
#7 Jeremy Stephens v #9 Calvin Kattar
Greg Hardy v Yorgan De Castro
#6 Donald Cerrone v #15 Anthony Pettis
#12 Aleksei Oleinik v Fabricio Werdum
#7 Carla Esparza v #8 Michelle Waterson
#10 Uriah Hall v #14 Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza
#13 Vicente Luque v Niko Price
Bryce Mitchell v Charles Rosa
Ryan Spann v Sam Alvey