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UFC Fighters Eager To Return To Normalcy This Weekend With ‘UFC 249’

UFC is holding one of the first major sporting events during the coronavirus pandemic this Saturday night in Florida, where Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will go head to head in the octagon. The pay-per-view show is meant to show the world that sports and entertainment in general is still thriving, and will return to normal eventually. 

Ferguson recently stated in an interview that both him and Gaethje want to “go out there and keep sports alive.” Both fighters flew into Jacksonville this week and were immediately tested for Covid-19 when they landed, along with every other member of each fighter’s team and the members of production for the event.

In separate interviews, the 24 fighters participating at UFC 249 all expressed that they were aware of the risks that come with competing in a sporting event that requires close-contact amongst the participants involved, however, UFC is taking all the necessary precautions that they need to to ensure everyone stays safe; there’s always going to be risk though. 

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Ferguson and Gaethje both believe that the sporting rewards outweigh the risks in this case. By fighting this Saturday, they’re setting an example for other sporting industries and proving that the parts of the “game” that fans know and love can continue to live on, just in a modified fan-free arena setting. 

WWE has also been continuing on with their regularly scheduled weekly programming in front of crowdless arenas. Just recently they held their annual Wrestlemania event – which is the equivalent to the SuperBowl for WWE fans – for the first time in front of an empty arena, and did so rather successfully.

“We’re going to bring a sense of normalcy to people. I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s the opportunity to inspire. People need to be inspired right now. They need to not let themselves become depressed (or) emotional because they can’t control what’s going on right now. We’ve got to ride it through. They need to be inspired, and we can do that,” Gaethje said in a phone interview. 

Ferguson added in the same interview: “I honestly had no reservations. Fighting is very dangerous, so I think we’ll be just fine.”

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The two are competing for the interim UFC lightweight title this Saturday. President of UFC, Dana White, recently said that she and her team never wanted to stop competition when this pandemic grew. They saw how industries like WWE were managing to stay relevant and alive during this uncertain time and wanted to do everything in her power to do the same for UFC. Luckily for White, all of the UFC fighters she contacted were bored and ready to get back to work the second they could do so safely. 

“There’s not very often you’re going to get to fight for a world title, much less during a pandemic when there’s zero sports going on, and you’re going to be the only one on TV. You have to face your fears. You’ve got to go out there and take the chances when they’re presented. … We get to put paychecks in our own pocket, and we get to put a paycheck in every UFC employee’s pocket that’s going to work this event and we get to inspire people to not give up right now,” Gaethje said. 

UFC 249 will be taking place this Saturday on pay-per-view and will be followed by additional UFC shows taking place on May 13th, May 16th and possible May 23rd as well, depending on how the next few weeks go.