UFC 249 to Jacksonville, Fla., as Dana White Plans Three Cards in One Week

Posted on: April 26, 2020, 05:34h. 

Last updated on: April 27, 2020, 10:20h.

Roughly a week after UFC President Dana White announced that UFC 249 would take place on May 9, we’ve now learned that the event that’s seemingly in a never-ending state of flux will now take place in Florida.

UFC 249 Jacksonville
UFC President Dana White said on Friday Jacksonville, Fla., will host UFC 249 on May 9 and two other fight cards within a week after the pay-per-view event. (Image: UFC.com)

On Friday, White announced in a statement that the matches will take place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. Previously, the bouts were scheduled to take place on April 18 at Tachi Palace Casino Resort, a tribal casino in Central California. However, he postponed the event after California officials asked UFC media partner ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, ESPN’s owner, to intervene.

California officials raised concerns regarding White’s planned use of a tribal casino to avoid the state’s stay-home order that closed nonessential businesses.

ESPN will broadcast the Jacksonville fights, and if social media is any indication, UFC will not face any resistance in the Sunshine State.

1st live US sporting event since COVID-19 is happening in Jacksonville,” tweeted Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry late Friday night. “We welcome @ufc @danawhite. They will fight. We will watch. The arena @OfficialVyStar will be empty, but our spirit will be there. This sporting event will be a big moment in history.”

UFC 249 won’t be the only event in Jacksonville, either. In UFC’s statement, White said there will be additional fights at the arena scheduled for May 13 and May 16. Per state guidelines, no fans will be in attendance at any of the events, as only essential personnel will be allowed in the arena. All fighters also must pass medical screenings before being cleared to fight, and social distancing rules will also be enforced.

“I can’t wait to deliver some great fights for the fans… My team is ready to go and the fighters are excited to get back in there with these back-to-back events,” White said.

Odds on Ferguson-Gaethje and Cejudo-Cruz

UFC 249’s headline bout will still be Tony Ferguson (26-3), the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division, facing off against fourth-ranked Justin Gaethje. Gaethje (21-2), was a last-minute replacement after lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was unable to leave Russia to defend his title against Ferguson.

Ferguson is currently the consensus favorite, although not by an overwhelming amount. BetMGM lists him at -173 to Gaethje’s +140, FanDuel has it as -174/+148, DraftKings offers -174/+148, while PointsBet provides -180/+142 odds.

In the co-main event, Dominick Cruz (22-2) returns to the UFC octagon for the first time in more than three years when he faces Henry Cejudo (15-2) for the bantamweight title.

Oddsmakers like Cejudo’s chances to retain one of his two UFC titles. BetMGM has him as the -250 favorite to +200 for Cruz. At PointsBet, it’s -240 to +185, and DraftKings also has Cejudo at -240 but Cruz at +190. FanDuel is giving odds of -245/+200.

Cejudo was slated to defend his belt against Jose Aldo. But, like Nurmagomedov, the Brazilian faced issues getting into the US for the fight.

Nurmagomedov to Get UFC 249 Winner

While Nurmagomedov won’t fight in UFC 249, White told ESPN that the Russian will face the Ferguson-Gaethje winner later this year.

The champion had been in training up through last month in anticipation of fighting Ferguson somewhere on April 18. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which Nurmagomedov observes, started on Thursday. Because of the fasting requirements, the fighter has told reporters that it will take him a couple of weeks after the month ends, on May 23, to get back into fighting shape.

White expects the Nurmagomedov fight against the Ferguson-Gaethje winner to take place either in September or October.