MMA Ratings Podcast

May 6, 2020

UFC 249 Has Finally Arrived, and Right Now It's The Only Show In Town

By Adam Martin

After nearly a two-month hiatus, the UFC is finally back. The world's leading MMA promotion will hold UFC 249 this Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida, becoming the first major sport in North American to return during the coronavirus pandemic. UFC President Dana White has been adamant all along that the show would go on, and despite all of the roadblocks along the way to holding the event, White was eventually able to get the job done and get the Octagon back up.

There is certainly an issue of morals about holding a sporting event right now while the coronavirus pandemic continues to take lives around the globe. Nearly all major sports organizations in North America and Europe, including the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the Premier League, are not operating right now and have not made any concrete plans about returning. Minor sports are not going on, either. There are no concerts and travel is severely restricted. For the UFC to hold events considering the very real risks of the coronavirus pandemic right now is absolutely a controversial decision.

Despite all the controversy, the UFC plans to hold multiple shows in Florida, where sports have been deemed an essential service. The UFC has stressed that the health and safety of its athletes are of the utmost importance, and plan on conducting COVID-19 tests for all the fighters and other people involved with UFC 249 and the other Jacksonville cards. White has said that the UFC is doing everything it can to keep everyone safe and is confident things will go smoothly. Ultimately, we won't know until the events take place if White's promises will hold up true. But for now, he's confident.

It's not hard to see why the UFC wants to return so badly. First off, the UFC stands to lose money by not putting on events. The promotion has already taken a big hit by canceling most of March and April's cards, and considering the financial state of UFC's parent company Endeavor, the promotion needs to get its show back on the road as soon as possible. UFC 249 is a pay-per-view card and the UFC needs the revenue from that event. Sure, there's no live gate and that hurts. But the PPV buys are key to the UFC's finances right now, so it makes sense that White wants this card to go on.

Second off, the fighters need to fight. UFC fighters aren't on guaranteed contracts like athletes in the major sports leagues. They need to fight to get paid. Say what you what about the morals of holding events right now, but the majority of UFC athletes seem to want the events to return because they want to make money. In an ideal world, MMA fighters would have some sort of guaranteed money in their contracts. But the reality of things is that right now they won't get paid if they don't fight. The UFC holding events, despite all of the risks, at least will give the fighters an opportunity to make money for their families.

Third and most importantly, the UFC is the only show in town right now. This is an incredible opportunity for the UFC to gain new sports fans, as the masses are desperate for some sort of excitement right now. And the UFC is bringing an amazing card to the fans this weekend. From top to bottom, it's one of the best cards ever conceived. Big names such as Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Henry Cejudo, Dominick Cruz, Francis Ngannou, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone line the card, and all 12 bouts scheduled to take place are exciting. If this is someone's first time watching a UFC card, they are in for a treat. And for hardcore fans who love the sport, they know how good this card is on paper. This is an amazing opportunity to make new fans and the UFC knows it.

There is definitely a moral question about holding a sporting event right now, but the UFC doesn't care. For many, it's the wrong thing to do, and there are those who will boycott the event. But White wants the show to go on, and the UFC Octagon will finally return this Saturday after nearly two weeks without fights. Hopefully, no one gets sick. Hopefully, the show goes on without a hitch. And hopefully, it's a great card. In a sport that has been controversial ever since its conception over 25 years ago, this might be one of the most controversial moments ever. Let's hope everyone can stay safe and healthy. Because as crazy as this all is, it might just be the jolt of energy the sport needs.

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje (formerly UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson) was scheduled to take place April 18, 2020 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus, the event was rescheduled for May 9, 2020 and relocated to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Click HERE for more UFC 249 Pre-Fight Analysis

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