As part of a long, gruelling — some say misguided — attempt by Dana White to bring sports back to our televisions, UFC 249 is back. It brings with it one of the best fight cards of 2020. Crazily, on Friday one fighter on the card (alongside two of his cornermen) tested positive for coronavirus. He has now been removed from the event and the show will continue.
A quick history lesson before we dive in: We thought UFC 249 was going to take place on an island, as part of a Mortal Kombat-esque plan to escape Covid-19 restrictions (in this scenario Dana White is Shao Kahn). Then UFC 249 was apparently going to take place on tribal land at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. Then it got cancelled after the UFC’s partners ESPN and Disney stepped in.
Now UFC 249 has been resurrected from the dead. It is alive and taking place in Florida, thanks to a change in restrictions in that state. It looks like UFC might be the first sport to get back up and running after the coronavirus.
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Many of the fights originally scheduled on the original UFC 249 are still present on this new card. Namely, its main event: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje. No, it’s not Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov as originally planned, but outside of getting Conor McGregor in, it’s the next best thing.
Ferguson vs Gaethje is an awesome interim title fight. A battle between two human bulls, two athletes who will march forward no matter what. Gaethje, especially, has been in practically nothing but fight of the year contenders. He will kick your legs till you cannot walk. Ferguson is also known for his incredible cardio and pressure. I can’t wait for this one.
UFC 249 has also been bolstered by a second title fight, between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz — also a compelling contest. Cejudo is a two-division champ and an Olympic gold medalist; Cruz is probably the best UFC bantamweight of all time. Cruz arguably shouldn’t be getting this opportunity (his last fight was a loss, three and a half years ago) but this will a tough fight to call. Cruz has proven to be remarkably immune to ring rust.
Outside the two titles fights, this card runs deep. It’s jam packed with stars: Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Michelle Waterson all feature. As does Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, a terrifying contest between arguably the two most dangerous heavyweights in the UFC.