What We Learned From UFC 249.

Written by on May 11, 2020

Desperation levels at the UFC are high!

Endeavor and the UFC are really desperate to get their fighting faces on. This is the underlying sentiment if one understands firstly, that Endeavor, the US-based sports and entertainment group whose assets include the UFC, is planning to sell part of its stake in US video game and software developer Epic Games (producer of the Fortnite title) as part of wider fundraising efforts. This in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their live events which has forced Endeavorto dismiss, furlough or institute salary cuts to around 30% of their workforce, resulting in credit-rating firms downgrading their debt.

Secondly, Dana White’s contract with ESPN requires a total of 42 fight events this year and last night’s event in Florida (in May) marks only the 8thevent so far this year – as per the Wall Street Journal.

Thirdly, with a decision regarding a possible $5 billion class action lawsuit due any time soon, Zuffa LLC and the UFC may be in need of a whole heap of money in the foreseeable future.

Athlete health and safety is not the highest priority for the UFC!

In their desperation to be the first major sports organisation to return to live action, the UFC has shown that the very product that keeps them operating – their contracted athletes – is not their most important priority!

In the midst of a national pandemic lockdown the UFC attempted tocircumvent government COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by hosting an event on tribal land at the Tachi Palace Resort Casino – Indian reservations typically operate independently, meaning they operate outside of local government or US federal government control.

When this idea was squashed by ESPN amongst others, the Mortal Kombat Island concept became the next opportunity to host an event. Did I mention that it was a GLOBAL PANDEMIC – this island is clearly on another planet!!!

The move to hold their next event (UFC 249) in Florida was only as a result of a decision by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis declaring “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience” an essential service in Florida. This despite the fact that April 9, the day the Governor declared the likes of the WWE (and UFC) an essential service, happened to be that “State’s deadliest day on record”!

Fast forward to Fight Week where the effectiveness of the UFC’s health and safety measures was found to be lacking, this following the announcement that Jacare Souza and two of his team had tested positive for COVID-19. Remember, Souza arrived and was tested on Wednesday and then again on weigh-in day (Friday), only then was it announced that he had tested positive! What was the outcome of his “arrival” test? So much for the 24 hour turnaround on arrival tests that the UFC and ESPN media were talking about.
You may also recall Dana White announcing that 1200 tests had been done on 300 people (thats 4 per person by rudimentary mathematics standards) and yet we were also told that each athlete was only tested twice up until weigh-ins? Essentially, the UFC was making it up as they went along!

To make matters worse, all participants at UFC 249 – including media – were required to sign a liability waiver which included a “non-disparagement clause” wherein they stood to lose their fight purses in the event that they criticized the UFC’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The clause extended the possible punitive actions to fighters’ “affiliates, agents and representatives.

The good news for both Souza and Hall is that “Yeah, we’ll get them figured out” apparently means that they will both get paid despite not competing at UFC 249.

The Heavyweight Division is a UFC Nightmare.

The UFC’s Heavyweight division is being held up by the Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier trilogy talks. Miocic announcing earlier this week that he would only fight Cormier after the COVID-19 crisis as he was currently “focused on being a first responder” in his home state of Ohio.

So while that bullshit continues, the bout between N’Gannou (now 15-3) and Rozenstruik (then undefeated at 10-0) was declined as an interim title fight despite N’Gannou being ranked as the #3 Heavyweight in the division??

The nightmare for the UFC is that N’Gannou has now laid waste to four of the biggest names in the division – all in the first round – and with decision losses to Lewis and Miocic, Dana White can no longer avoid giving him another shot at the title. Add the wins by Greg Hardy (6-2) and Alexey Oleinik (59-13-1) into the mix and surely there is an argument for moving this division forward.

One thing is certain, following N’Gannou’s 20 second KO of Rozenstruik, both Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya are most definitely second-guessing their intentions to fight in the UFC’s Heavyweight division.

The UFC needs a new Bantamweight King.

Moments after making MMA history by becoming only the second fighter in UFC history to successfully defend a belt in two different weight divisions, Henry Cejudo announced his retirement from the sport stating “I’m happy with my career, I’ve done enough in the sport.”

In the event that this is not just “Triple C” talk and indeed the retirement of Cejudo, he leaves the sport with a record of 16-2 along with the scalps of some of the greatest fighters in their respective divisions namely, Demetrius Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes and Dominik Cruz.

Never – The Possibility of Khabib v Ferguson.

Has the loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 banished the lightweight title fight that so many fight fans have been waiting 5 years for, to never-land?

Is there now any reason for Khabib to “need” to fight Ferguson, as the next logical fight is for the undisputed crown in the lightweight division.

If so, has the UFC’s desperation to put an event together this weekend, cost them an obvious serious money-making headline bout in Khabib v Ferguson? I think so.

Khabib has stated on a number of occasions that he is not getting any younger and that he only has a handful of fights left and with a McGregor rematch in the wings (based on last PPV figures this would seem logical for a Dana White) and now a bout against the interim champ looming, if there is to be a Khabib v Ferguson fight, I expect it will be some way off…

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