With the return of UFC 249 in May, UFC President Dana White made sure to compile the most complete card. The main event will hold fights between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, as well as a bout between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz.
However, why is this card so important?
1. Introducing sports during the pandemic
Considering all sports have been suspended indefinitely due to the Coronavirus, the UFC is taking a leap of faith by allowing fighters to engage with one another in the octagon. While repetitive testing is expected and no fans will be allowed at the venue, there is still risk at hand.
However, White never wanted to put the UFC on hold in the first place. In fact, it was executives at ESPN and Disney that forced the suspension. As long as the event goes well and all tests come back negative, this could be the first domino en route to sports coming back.
2. Future of multiple divisions at stake
Both the Bantamweight and interim Lightweight title will be up for grabs in May, and both bouts include powerhouse names. In the Bantamweight fight, Cejudo will look to make his third consecutive title defense against a veteran in Dominick Cruz. While most will overlook Cruz as an opponent due to a poor showing against Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in 2016, we can’t forget that he compiled 12 straight wins leading into that fight.
In the main event, an interesting matchup between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will determine the interim Lightweight Champion. In the latest report, it has been confirmed that Khabib Nurmagomedov is scheduled to fight the winner of the upcoming bout this fall.
3. Contenders fighting for legacy during prelims
It’s difficult to believe that a bout between Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis is placed on the prelim, isn’t it? In total, seven of the eight fighters participating in the prelim event of UFC 249 are currently ranked; Fabrico Werdum being the only exception.
Names such as Michelle Waterson and Uriah Hall are desperate to climb up the rankings, as each are within their mid-30’s at this time. With an impressive string of performances this year, a fighter within the prelims in May could be fighting within a main event before the end of the year.