The UFC announced the full schedule of matches for the shows scheduled for May 13 and 16, as the promotion of mixed martial arts approaches to resuming competition amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The UFC plans to hold several fanless shows at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, this month. The first event is the UFC 249 pay-per-view on May 9th.
Many of the fights announced on Friday are fights initially made for shows that have been canceled in recent weeks. May 13th and 16th shows must be broadcast on ESPN Plus.
The fight of the nine fights on May 13 will be headed by former light heavyweight title contenders Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Originally, the fight was scheduled to lead the UFC show in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 25.
The May 13 show is co-starring Ovince Saint Preux's heavyweight debut against Ben Rothwell. Other clashes on the card include lightweights Alexander Hernandez and Drew Dober, lightweights Ray Borg and Ricky Simon and heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Philipe Lins.
The main event of the nine-fight show on May 16 is Dutch veteran Alistair Overeem against Walt Harris. They were scheduled to meet at the main event of a show in Portland, Oregon, on April 11.
Harris (13-7) fights for the first time since his 19-year-old stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, disappeared and was found dead in November last year in Alabama.
The May 16 show also includes featherweight Edson Barboza and Dan Ige, middleweight Eryk Anders and Krzysztof Jotko, bantamweight Song Yadong and Marlon Vera and strawweight Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill.
The UFC hasn't held a show since March 14, when it organized a full fight card in an empty arena in Brazil. The UFC had plans to resume competition at the Tachi Palace casino complex on tribal lands in California last month, but ESPN forced UFC president Dana White to risk her plans after objections from California state officials.
White has promised, since the beginning of the worldwide stoppage, the first major sports organization to resume regular competition.
White still wants to host 42 events in 2020, matching the number promised to ESPN and UFC broadcast partners under the latest rights deals that are a critical source of revenue for the promotion, which was purchased by entertainment conglomerate Endeavor in a heavily leveraged agreement in 2016.
The promotion began to inform its fighters about the security protocols that will be implemented in Jacksonville.
The UFC says the fighters and their singers will be subject to daily medical examinations and tests after they arrive at the hotel, and each fighter will receive an individual exercise room. Only essential personnel will be allowed into the arena on the night of the fight.
UFC 249 will headline light contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Heavyweight champion Henry Cejudo will also defend his title against former champion Dominick Cruz on a stacked card.
The UFC is also working on a May 23 show in Jacksonville. Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is expected to fight on the show.
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