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After message from Trump, UFC marks sports' return during coronavirus pandemic

After a message of approval from President...

Posted: May 14, 2020 9:28 AM
Updated: May 14, 2020 9:29 AM

After a message of approval from President Donald Trump, UFC 249 unfolded to mark the return of high-profile sports after a roughly two-month absence due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Global soccer leagues have all ceased due to the virus -- though Germany's Bundesliga is set to return next weekend -- along with MLB, the NBA and NHL, but Jacksonville, Florida, hosted the MMA spectacle with no fans.

"I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC," Trump said in a taped message aired by sports broadcaster ESPN, referring to the UFC president who is also one of his economic advisers.

"They're going to have a big match. We love it. We think it's important. Get the sports leagues back. Let's play. Do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do. We need sports. We want our sports back. Congratulations to Dana White and UFC."

According to one report, the cage floor and padding of the octagon where fights take place were regularly cleaned during Saturday night's proceedings. Many of those inside the stadium wore masks and gloves.

That didn't, though, include the referees, announcer and some other officials, the same report stated. Everyone had to be tested prior to entering the arena.

One middleweight, Jacare Souza, had his fight against Uriah Hall canceled Friday after testing positive for the virus.

White defended his decision to stage the event -- which was originally scheduled for New York in the middle of April -- telling CNN last week it wasn't a "crazy" idea.

"Listen, we have families, too," he said. "I have a family. I don't want to hurt my family. I don't want to die.

"This isn't just some crazy...this is a well-thought-out plan. We've had very, very smart people, doctors and people that have been involved with the UFC for a very long time working on this thing nonstop since it started.

"We believe that we have this thing in a place where it can be as safe as it can possibly be."

More fights this week

Two more fight nights are on the cards for Jacksonville on Wednesday and Saturday, but White didn't discount holding bouts on an island in the future.

As for the action Saturday, Justin Gaethje stopped favorite Tony Ferguson in the fifth and final round to land the interim lightweight title, and Henry Cejudo successfully defended his bantamweight crown by knocking out Dominick Cruz in the second round -- before announcing his retirement.

"I'm happy with my career," said Cejudo, a wrestling gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics. "I've done enough in the sport. I want to walk away and enjoy myself. I'm 33 years old."

Ferguson was scheduled to meet the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia, but that was canceled for a fifth time. On this occasion, it was due to travel restrictions placed on Nurmagomedov because of the pandemic.

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In stepped Gaethje, and Ferguson said he didn't adjust to the different style.

"I had spent a lot of time preparing for Khabib who is not as much of a striker," he said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 875692

Reported Deaths: 16979
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2884516876
Riverside632841269
San Bernardino596961021
Orange568681409
San Diego52355853
Kern33373410
Fresno29911429
Sacramento24304468
Santa Clara23224373
Alameda22636442
San Joaquin21187484
Contra Costa18054234
Stanislaus17292391
Tulare17120275
Ventura13845160
Imperial12410335
San Francisco11877133
Monterey1102283
San Mateo10743157
Santa Barbara9588119
Merced9314152
Sonoma8810129
Kings815183
Solano700974
Marin7001124
Madera483673
San Luis Obispo398532
Placer389852
Yolo306356
Butte301250
Santa Cruz269623
Napa186614
Sutter179612
Shasta167929
San Benito140114
El Dorado12774
Yuba125310
Mendocino108921
Tehama7648
Lassen7571
Lake66315
Glenn6393
Nevada5818
Colusa5456
Humboldt5448
Calaveras33317
Amador30916
Tuolumne2494
Inyo21215
Siskiyou1840
Mono1752
Del Norte1731
Mariposa782
Plumas540
Modoc270
Trinity200
Sierra60
Alpine30
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Hot & dry conditions are ahead for your Monday. Stronger winds will bring high fire danger back into our forecast this week. Much cooler temperatures & the potential for showers are on the way for your weekend.
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