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UFC 249 may have found a home in Florida

The nomadic UFC 249 mixed martial arts event may have found a place to take place. In Jacksonville, the second-largest city in the state of Florida.

In terms of when and where UFC 249 was to be held, the mixed martial arts event's date and location have been something of a moving target, originally to be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on April 9. A week or so ago, there was talk that of UFC 249 might take place at a casino on an Indian reservation in California ... or even on a island just off the coast, with the thought those locations might be legal in this era of "shelter in place" requirements and "safe distancing."

VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Multiple media reports Thursday indicated that UFC 249 would be held at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, a 15,000-seat facility in downtown Jacksonville.

Wrestling Observer Radio reported Thursday that the UFC promotion had found a venue that would be available on May 9.

"It looks like it's going to be the [VyStar] Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville," said Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio. He went on to say that UFC had actually told fighters that they would be flying into Jacksonville ... but there are people in Jacksonville that have to book a building. "That's where it looks like it's going to be," said Meltzer.

Meltzer's analysis doesn't sync with a public statement issued by ASM Global, the company that manages seven venues in the northeast Florida city, including VyStar Arena, and owner of venues that usually (non-COVID-19 virus) host multiple sporting events such as baseball and arena football."

So ... how can Jacksonville host UFC 249 in this era of quarantine and strict attendance limits?

For starters, just this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an order declaring sporting events "essential services" as long as the event is closed to the general public. (A prime example: WWE events filmed in empty arenas and WWE-owned training facilities.)

Some news stories addressing the possibility of relocating UFC 249 to the Sunshine State also mention a newly-added match to the card. Forbes reported that 2008 Olympic gold-medal-winning freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo is expected to put his UFC bantamweight title on the line against former two-time UFC 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. The Cejudo-Cruz bout would be in addition to the previously announced match between two former amateur wrestlers: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje.

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