UFC President Dana White is making good on his promise to be the first major sport back in business since the global pandemic began. UFC 249, this time with ESPN’s blessing, will take place on May 9 in an empty arena in Jacksonville, Fla.
White’s previous attempt to hold UFC 249 on April 18 was side-swiped at the last minute at the request of broadcast partner ESPN and its parent company, Disney. The fight promotion plans to quickly get back on track with a trio of events in an eight-day span, beginning with the UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje pay-per-view.
White and the UFC took heavy criticism for trying to move ahead with UFC 249 and April 18. Truth be told, there is still a tremendous number of critics that say it is too soon for things like sports to be ramping back up as we still cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Not one to back down from a fight, White is moving forward, full steam ahead, citing his business’s unique position in having to constantly be on top of the health and safety of its athletes, as a reason why the UFC will be successful in safely restarting its operations.
“I care very much about my fighters, I care very much about my staff, obviously my family. We’re going to do everything way up here (raises his hand above his head). We always do. Health and safety is an issue for us for the last 20 years,” White said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports.
“There’s a lot of companies and a lot of businesses out there that now the health and safety of their employees is something new, it’s not new for us. It’s not only something we deal with on a weekly basis, we take great pride that we have such a great track record.”
Though White has provided few details in his interviews, the fighters involved with the initial relaunch of the UFC recently received an email detailing the safety protocol put in place for the upcoming events in Jacksonville.
Per that email, only designated UFC staff, the fighters slated to compete, and their licensed cornermen will be allowed on site. Upon arrival at the host hotel, the fighters and their cornermen will have to undergo mandatory medical screenings and tests. The screenings and tests will recur daily while the fighters and their teams remain at the hotel.
The fighters and their teams will be given credentials that will have to be worn at all times at the hotel, where the fighters will be provided individual workout rooms, mats, sanitizer, and a personal sauna to aid in weight cutting.
In addition to the procedures and amenities provided the fighters and their teams, there will also be hotel staff on premise to make sure rooms are sanitized and to provide 24/7 room service. The UFC’s Performance Institute staff will provide nutritional support and there will also be on-site medical staff.
There will be additional details and information regarding further measures provided upon arrival on site in Jacksonville, as well.