The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, will end the near two-month hiatus from live events that was forced upon the company by the COVID-19 pandemic. For a third consecutive time, it will break with the consensus of professional sports and entertainment providers— who indefinitely suspended operations while America tried desperately to flatten the curve—and attempt to forge ahead with a live fight card during a national health crisis.
The first attempt consisted of a push to hold UFC Fight Night 171, UFC on ESPN 8 and UFC Fight Night 172 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas between March 21 and April 11. It was quashed by government decree. The second attempt saw the promotion look to hold UFC 249 on tribal lands at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, on April 18. It was slapped down by the higherups in ESPN and Disney. This time however, with its broadcast partners, the Florida State Boxing Commission and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the UFC’s corner, the conventional wisdom is that the show, barring some kind of catastrophe, will actually go on. So confident is UFC President Dana White that the organization has booked two more events—May 13 and May 16—in Jacksonville for the following week and has plans to bring the circus tent back to Las Vegas on May 23.
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