UFC 249 Is Coming, But In What Form?
We live in unprecedented historic times, as almost every facet of life has changed for people around the globe. What can we expect from sports promotions such as the UFC and upcoming events such as the UFC 249 fight card?
Sports need fans, as without eyeballs on the event or butts in seats, there is no demand. So when it comes to running profitable shows, how will or can this be done, while still making events viable? Empty football stadiums, tennis courts or mixed martial arts fighting, where does all of this lead?
WWE laid the plans on how to run events minus the fans. With the Florida governor deciding that WWE was an essential business. Therefore allowing events to take place behind closed doors, under a very specific and pre-defined set of operating rules. The roadmap has been laid out for others to follow, but how long is that road?
With an employee for the WWE testing positive for COVID-19 in early April. There were some doubts about whether it was viable to continue putting on live events. Potentially risking the health of the performers and staff on the ground. However, soon after a press release by the organisation stated that they did not feel there was any threat to staff from the individual who tested positive and the show would go on.
Today the UFC finds themselves in the very same situation. Eager to restart the machine, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. What will cards like UFC 249 be like without a stadium crowd in attendance? I am thinking something along the lines of The Ultimate fighter house. With a skeleton crew of staff, alongside the essential officials, cornermen and the fighters themselves.
All in all, quite an odd setting
What do we want to see, big empty stadiums to give the events that tentpole effect? Or for things to be a little more lowkey and perhaps even held in the TUF gym or similar small intimate venue? The thinking would be that the UFC has pre-booking several venues well in advance. So to maintain that relationship they will have to keep those prior bookings. Even in circumstances such as this, they may be willing to pay the venues to maintain that longer-term partnership and not rock the boat during tough times.
No matter what happens, all involved will be taking a hit in their respective wallets. And what about the losses for smaller events where PPV is not involved and gates were a sizeable part of the revenue? Thank goodness for Fightpass, or as Dana White might put it, thank [email protected] we have Fightpass.
Is this a viable long term model which can be made to work? In terms of social distancing and large crowds. The UFC won’t be looking at full stadiums for many months to come. If we were very pessimistic about it, we could actually be looking at sometime later in 2021.
UFC 249 Fight Card How It Stacks Up
Will we as a collective fanbase ever be able to get over the fight that never was? Instead of it being Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson, it’s Tony vs Justin Gaethje. No doubt it’s still a great fight, but it’s not Khabib vs Tony and it may never be if The Highlight does the business May 9th. Which in this current climate and run of bad luck might almost be expected!
- Tony Ferguson 25 – 3 – 0 vs Justin Gaethje 21 – 2 – 0
- Henry Cejudo 15 – 2 – 0 vs Dominick Cruz 22 – 2 – 0
- Unknown Fighter vs Felicia Spencer 8 – 1 – 0
- Francis Ngannou 14 – 3 – 0 vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik 10 – 0 – 0
- Jeremy Stephens 28 – 17 – 0 vs Calvin Kattar 20 – 4 – 0
- Anthony Pettis 22 – 10 – 0 vs Donald Cerrone 36 – 14 – 0
- Greg Hardy 5 – 2 – 0 vs Yorgan De Castro 6 – 0 – 0
- Fabricio Werdum 23 – 8 – 1 vs Alexey Oleynik 58 – 13 – 1
- Carla Esparza 15 – 6 – 0 vs Michelle Waterson 17 – 7 – 0
- Ronaldo Souza 26 – 8 – 0 vs Uriah Hall 15 – 9 – 0
- Vicente Luque 17 – 7 – 1 vs Niko Price 14 – 3 – 0
- Charles Rosa 12 – 3 – 0 vs Bryce Mitchell 12 – 0 – 0
Then, my friends, it’s back to the drawing board as it will be Gaethje challenging for the championship at some point later this year. Another let down for many El Cucuy fans and of course the man himself. Who at this point probably doesn’t know what to think.
Dominick Cruz Back In The mix at UFC Jacksonville
And another shock announcement has to be that of Dominick Cruz making what can only be described as a comeback to the cage. Not having fought since his loss to Coby Garbrandt in 2016. If you had asked who Cejudo might be facing at UFC 249, he is most definitely not one of the names which would have sprung to mind.
For al the world it looked like Cruz had decided to give in to the bad luck and losses. And set his sights on a career outside of competition commentating, where he shines as one of the very best in the sport. But if you are Dominick Cruz and the UFC comes at you with a title shot out of the blue. Well, what else does the former bantamweight champion say? … Exactly!
Never one to shy away from a challenge, this will no doubt have lit a fire under the former two-time champion. And would be such a surreal situation should he reclaim a world championship, at this time, under these circumstances.
And we know Henry Cejudo would have had a pretty sizeable list of people he is willing to fight. Cejudo, for the most part, appears to be willing to fight just about anyone. With all the confidence of a dominant champion, Henry seems willing to take whoever the UFC puts in front of him. And right now, that happens to be Cruz.
But we have to wonder just how will Dominick look after such a long layoff? Is he looking for a payday or does he truly believe he can overcome one of the most dominant current fighters in the sport, undersized or not? What a surreal sight it would be to see him crowned bantamweight champion in front of an empty stadium, so weird.
The Remaining Fight Card
When it comes to some of the other athletes competing. With the exception of a few, it looks as though most if not all are US-based fighters. It may be that some were already in the country, but heavyweight contenders Francis NGannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik may have to jet in from abroad? But this card is likely to change again at some point, as the UFC looks to secure a definite venue and rock-solid fight card to restart the 2020 fight calendar.
And with the two heavyweights agreeing to fight for an Interim belt, without the UFC’s blessing. We may be looking at a total of three title fights in one night. But right now, a truly huge card has to be first and foremost on the minds of Dana White and company. Not knowing how much long term damage a pandemic and resulting economic recession might have on their companies balance sheets going forward.
It will take some pretty slick manoeuvring in order to provide a product of high enough quality to keep the masses engaged. With plenty of stuff not working out as expected along the way. The following months will no doubt prove a testing time for the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion. But if they can get it right and exit this whole terrible situation smelling of roses. In the end, everything may turn out just fine for everyone concerned, here’s hoping.
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