UFC books May 9 return in Florida with no spectators

MIAMI (AFP) – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches will return May 9 with the first of three cards in Jacksonville, Florida to be staged without spectators, UFC President Dana White announced on Friday.

Restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic had prevented UFC 249 from being staged last Saturday, reportedly at a Native American tribal reservation in California.

But an executive order from Florida governor Ron DeSantis two weeks ago opened the door to hosting UFC events by declaring essential services status for “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience… if the location is closed to the general public.”

As a result, UFC 249 will be staged at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, headlined by an interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.

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

File photo shows UFC president Dana White. PHOTO: AP