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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.

Cases: 3213222

Reported Deaths: 37543
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles107967215314
San Bernardino2660281678
Riverside2643632857
Orange2377082704
San Diego2286322375
Santa Clara985831264
Kern90564591
Fresno858081067
Sacramento841101185
Alameda70823896
Ventura66402525
San Joaquin59665835
Contra Costa55245489
Stanislaus49065796
Tulare43574542
Monterey37527259
San Mateo34294340
San Francisco30559293
Santa Barbara27149267
Solano27041115
Imperial25707510
Merced25575331
Sonoma25141251
Kings20138161
Placer17839188
San Luis Obispo16957158
Madera14000151
Santa Cruz13009135
Marin12024165
Yolo11210138
Shasta10054129
Butte9820136
El Dorado818462
Sutter806983
Napa800548
Lassen526916
San Benito522351
Yuba517630
Tehama446846
Tuolumne347740
Nevada335574
Mendocino329336
Amador306733
Lake272432
Humboldt262427
Glenn202622
Colusa18719
Calaveras170423
Siskiyou149913
Mono11454
Inyo105129
Del Norte8742
Plumas6135
Modoc3903
Mariposa3555
Trinity3065
Sierra950
Alpine730
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Chico
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Oroville
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Chico
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Red Bluff
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A Pacific storm is now moving into northern California. The clouds have arrived, the wind is getting stronger, and we can expect areas of rain and snow tonight, and it will be heavy at times. Snow will fall down to the valley floor through Wednesday morning.
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