As fate would have it, the fifth time was not the charm. Once again, the UFC’s attempt to book a fight featuring lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and top contender Tony Ferguson fell apart, this time as the result of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. Even still, UFC president Dana White insisted the event would proceed, however, and the full card was quickly revealed on Monday, April 6.
In the main event, Ferguson will still get a shot at lightweight gold, taking on another highly-ranked contender in Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. While Ferguson was already in the process of training for his fight with Nurmagomedov, Gaethje is taking the short-notice fight after the champion Nurmagomedov returned to his home country of Russia as the UFC had not notified him of specifics of the location for the event. He was eventually unable to travel back to the United States to compete on the card as Russia closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Hours after the announcement of the Ferguson-Gaethje main event on Monday night, the UFC quickly revealed the entire 12-fight card, which includes a monster heavyweight showdown as well as a highly-anticipated rematch in the women’s strawweight division. The location of the event — originally slated to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — has remained a mystery, but that is slowly changing. Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that UFC 249 will take place at the Tachi Palace Resort and Casino in Lemoore, California. News of the Tachi Palace serving as the site was first reported by independent MMA journalist Jeff Sherwood, and it will presumably host UFC events within the United States for the foreseeable future.
The co-main event was expected to be a rematch of Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade, but Namajunas has withdrawn from the bout for undisclosed reasons a day after the card was announced and confirmed. It is unclear whether Andrade will remain on the card and what the new co-main event will be.
With a handful of fights being added, some bouts originally scheduled for UFC 249 had to fall off, including Ben Rothwell vs. Gian Villante, Belal Muhammad vs. Lyman Good and Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev. Alexander Hernandez was originally set to face Islam Makhachev, but travel restrictions forced Makhachev out of the picture, inserting Omar Morales in his place.
The action all goes down on Saturday, April 18 and will air on ESPN+ pay-per-view. The card as it currently stands is as follows:
UFC 249 fight card
- Tony Ferguson -180 vs. Justin Gaethje +155 — Interim lightweight title
- Jessica Andrade vs. TBD — women’s strawweights
- Greg Hardy -195 vs. Yorgan De Castro +165 — Heavyweights
- Vicente Luque -250 vs. Niko Price +190 — Welterweights
- Calvin Kattar -270 vs. Jeremy Stephens +220 — Featherweights
- Francis Ngannou -310 vs. Jair Rozenstruik +250 — Heavyweights
- Ronaldo Souza -150 vs. Uriah Hall +125 — Middleweights
- Alexander Hernandez -230 vs. Omar Morales +190 — Lightweights
- Ray Borg -125 vs. Marlon Vera +105 — Bantamweights
- Michael Johnson -230 vs. Khama Worthy +190 — Lightweights
- Sijara Eubanks -330 vs. Sarah Moras +260 — Women’s bantamweights
- Ryan Spann -330 vs. Sam Alvey +240 — Light heavyweights