01 Jan Report: Jacksonville, Fla., arena hosts UFC 249 on May 9
A new report names Jacksonville, Fla., as the host of the UFC 249 pay-per-view event on May 9.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Thursday said the 15,000-seat VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will host of the stacked fight card, which is headlined by an interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. The UFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MMA Fighting on Tuesday reported Florida as the likely host of the event. People with knowledge of the promotion’s plans said Jacksonville is the destination on fighters’ travel itineraries for the May 9 fight card.
UFC 249 was originally slated to take place on April 18 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and featured a highlight anticipated lightweight title headliner between champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. The promotion lost its initial host when Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The card was then relocated to the Tachi Palace Casino Resort on tribal land in Lemoore, Calif. But Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly put pressure on the UFC’s broadcaster to call off the event, and UFC President Dana White agreed to “stand down” at the request of broadcast partner ESPN.
The May 9 event is expected to be regulated by the Florida State Boxing Commission, which is one of the only major state athletic commissions with experience overseeing events during the pandemic; the commission oversaw the MMA event Combat Night on March 21. The “Sunshine State” became a frontrunner to host the event after Gov. Ron DeSantis deemed pro wrestling an “essential business” as long as they didn’t host an audience.
Here is the current fight card:
Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje
Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz
Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens
Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
Yorgan De Castro vs. Greg Hardy
Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Fabricio Werdum
Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza
Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa