UFC 249 will go down as one of the most tumultuous events in MMA history. But you won’t know that from the promotional video that kicks off the show.
The promotion on Sunday released the video package that opens the May 9 event, and there’s nary a mention of the circumstances that led to the lineup on display at VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla,, to say nothing of the global coronavirus pandemic that led it there. The key point? The UFC is back.
Narrated by actor Ron Perlman, a regular fixture of pay-per-view show opens, the video sticks to the present, an interim lightweight title fight between one-time interim champ Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje that was assembled when the coronavirus ruled out undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov for an ill-fated April 18 date.
Nurmagomedov may or may not be waiting for the winner of the May 9 fight. UFC President Dana White has said a title unifier is next, but he’s also said he’s “afraid” of what will happen if Ferguson comes out the victor and sets up a sixth booking of the cursed matchup with the Dagestani champ.
Whatever the case, Gaethje is the immediate beneficiary of the situation for his readiness to step up.
“The old saying is to always be ready,” Perlman said of Gaethje. “To pick up the phone when there’s a call to action. And who better to answer the bell than the human highlight reel himself.”