Last night marked the return of what is arguably the most-watched sport of the decade: UFC
UFC 249 viewers’ opinions were divided over the long-awaited result. UFC 249 was the promotion’s first event in two months because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Without the noise of a packed stadium, viewers could hear the fighters landing punches, hear their heavy breathing, and hear the trainers talking to corners. Others, however, missed the first-person experience of being front and center in the arena and the ability to take it all in. All in all, this led to an entirely new experience for everyone.
UFC fans have hailed promoter Dana White for managing to get fights back on their TV screens, albeit without a live audience. Last night’s event was initially set for April 18 in Brooklyn, NY. The event had to overcome a host of hurdles to be able to be a pay-per-view event that took place behind closed doors. The PPV event was dealt a blow one day before fight night when Ronaldo Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19. This diagnosis forced the cancellation of his fight against Uriah Hall.
Ex-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, serving as a commentator, explained the safety measures in place at UFC 249. The commentators, as well as media members, commissioners, cornermen, and security, all wore PPE face masks.
Dana White insists the “show must go on.”
White has rented a private island where he is planning to arrange fights by late June. White’s self-named “Fight Island” is looking to stage bouts for the duration of the pandemic, or perhaps beyond. The road to this return, without fans in the stands, has been rocky. White’s first attempt on setting up the match resulted in a false start. A planned April 18 card on Native American tribal land in California was blocked by objections from top state officials and television collaborators.
While many don’t agree with White’s bold moves, many sports fans on social media have cheered on and supported the UFC’s dedication to fight on in the face of severe reproach from the powers that be. White’s scorn for political correctness and his embrace of defiance for the sport he loves is part of what excites so many people and inspires so many followers.