Dana White On UFC 249, May 13th and 16th Cards, And Fight Island
Dana White has revealed to ESPN that the UFC will put on three cards in a week at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. As well as UFC 249 on May 9th, the UFC will also hold events on May 13th and 16th.
“They want to fight. People are hitting us up and want to fight. We’re putting together three cards in a week. People who want to fight are going to get fights.”
With Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje set to headline UFC 249 for the UFC lightweight interim title, Dana confirmed that the winner would face Khabib Nurmagomedov in September/October. The UFC lightweight champion began Ramadan a couple of days ago.
“Ferguson vs Gaethje will be one of the most violent fights you’ll ever see, I can guarantee that. They’re two of the best in the world, and the winner will fight Khabib for the title. Khabib will be back in September/October.”
It was the powers that be at ESPN and Disney who previously made the call to Dana to postpone UFC 249 on April 18th. However, in a statement, ESPN confirmed they fully behind the UFC’s return on May 9th:
“Sports play an important role in people’s lives and can bring moments of escape in challenging times. We look forward to bringing UFC to fans again.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also made the following statement on the UFC holding their return events in his city:
“As we move step-by-step on the path toward economic recovery, we are proud to host these UFC events. The UFC organisation is a renowned entertainment brand that’s presented a safe and sensible plan to use this Jacksonville location, and we are thrilled to have our city highlighted nationally on ESPN and ESPN+.”
Dana went on to confirm that his Fight Island should be up-and-running for international fight cards by June. And even stated that we may see the Octagon on the beach.
“Fight Island should be up and running in June. So I should be able to start running international events in June. From May 9th to May 23th, we’ll knock out four shows. And then in June we can start international stuff on the island.
“We really are putting an Octagon on the beach. There’s going to be training facilities there for people. There are hotels. And the whole island is going to be built, all the infrastructure is going to be built for the UFC to come do fights there.”
With all events to be behind closed doors for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dana said he isn’t in a rush to have fans back in attendance.
“I’m not in a big hurry to get fans back in the arena. I know we can do this thing safely with no fans.”
While we have no idea when fans will be able to attend UFC shows again, we do know the headliner for the May 13th and 16th cards. Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira, who were originally scheduled to face off at UFC Columbus on April 25th, are now expected to headline on May 13th.
A heavyweight clash between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris, who set to fight at UFC Portland on April 11th, are to be the main event on the May 16th card.
According to Ariel Helwani, Ovince Saint Preux is set to move up to heavyweight on May 13th to face Ben Rothwell.
While according to Megan Olivi, Joe Rogan is confirmed to be commentating UFC 249, along side Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier.
This is how the full lineup for UFC 249 now looks:
The UFC have since made this full statement on the safety measures they are taking, ahead of their return next month:
“Health and safety have long been a priority for UFC and we have set the standards for our industry. In light of the current circumstances, we plan to implement further enhanced safety measures as we return to producing live events.
UFC events scheduled for May 9, May 13, and May 16 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida will be fully sanctioned by the Florida State Boxing Commission and will comply with all of the regulations governing professional MMA events. We have worked closely with our medical staff and state and local officials, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, to ensure the appropriate health and safety protocols are in place.
Pursuant to a request from the Florida State Boxing Commission, these events will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance. All athletes and staff will be required to adhere to a number of precautionary measures, such as participating in advanced medical screenings and temperature checks and following social distancing guidelines.
On behalf of the fans, athletes, and employees, UFC thanks Governor Ron DeSantis, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Florida State Boxing Commission Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, and our media partners, including ESPN and ESPN+, for their support as we resume our events.”