The first Ultimate Fighting Championship event since the coronavirus outbreak shut down professional sports has finally taken place, with Justin Gaethje defeating Tony Ferguson via TKO in the 5th round of the main event of UFC 249. Ferguson was originally meant to fight Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov back in April, though the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic effectively shutting the world down. Nurmagomedov expressed hopes to compete in the event, but when it became clear that he would not be able to show up UFC boss Dana White made the decision to insert Gaethje into the main event for the interim Lightweight Championship.
Gaethje went into the fight as the long shot but ended up dominating the entire bout, overpowering Ferguson with strong strikes throughout the night. Ferguson's endurance carried him to the fifth round, but he just wasn't able to mount an offense before the ref stopped the fight.
👊💥😱May 10, 2020
The event was somewhat strange due to the lack of an audience in the stands, though some fighters didn't let that halt their efforts to raise excitement in the arena. UFC 249 took place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, a state which is no stranger to closed-doors live events in the age of COVID-19.
White has been expressing his desire to set up events and keep the UFC train on its tracks, following the lead of WWE as they also continue to perform televised events without audiences. AEW is also hosting their shows in Florida, with their latest taping of Dynamite taking place in Jacksonville as well.
The event was also supposed to feature a bout between Ronaldo "Jacaré" Souza and Uriah Hall, but was cancelled at the last minute after Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic.
UFC still has two more events in the coming week, with more fights scheduled to take place on UFC on ESPN on the 13th and 16th of May. Those events will be headlined by bouts of Anthony Smith vs Glover Teixeira, and Alistair Overeem vs Walt Harris respectively.
Cover photo via Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
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