MIAMI: The Final Combating Championship Saturday grew to become the primary main American sporting occasion held because the US coronavirus outbreak, with President Donald Trump congratulating the promoter.
The controversial card put the UFC within the highlight like by no means earlier than, however didn’t go off with out a hitch after middleweight Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza was dropped when he and two of his cornermen examined optimistic for Covid-19 on Friday.
The primary occasion noticed Justin Gaethje dominate Tony Ferguson with a fifth-round technical knockout victory within the light-weight division. Gaethje completed his opponent off three minutes and 39 seconds into the fifth to earn the interim light-weight crown.
“It worked out great,” stated promoter Dana White. “I am happy with the way it went tonight.”
In a pre-recorded video proven throughout the undercard fights, Trump — who in November attended a UFC card — congratulated White for the game’s return.
“Get the sports leagues back, let’s play,” the president stated. “You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do, but we need sports. We want our sports back.”
The fights had been staged in an empty 15,000-seat VyStar Veterans Memorial area in Jacksonville, Florida, after earlier makes an attempt to carry it in New York and California failed as a result of pandemic restrictions on reside sporting occasions.
The worldwide outbreak has largely shut down the American financial system, however Florida authorities have deemed skilled sports activities — together with blended martial arts — important companies.
White downplayed the unfavourable affect of Souza’s optimistic check and insisted it confirmed they had been up to the mark.
“Obviously the system that we set up works. We found out he was positive and all the other tests were negative,” he stated.
“We have two more fights this week. We will do over 1,100 tests.”
He has additionally introduced playing cards for Wednesday and subsequent Saturday in Jacksonville — regardless of stating he expects to see extra optimistic coronavirus assessments this week.
“When you are testing that much I am sure we are going to find somebody else who is positive,” White instructed ESPN.
– Step in the direction of normalcy –
With the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation, Main League Baseball, the Nationwide Hockey League and Main League Soccer all suspended — together with the US PGA Tour and LPGA — White is touting the return of UFC as a step towards normalcy and a boon for sports-starved followers.
Publish-fight interviews on Saturday had been performed contained in the ring with out masks. Outdoors the Octagon many personnel — however not all — had been carrying some protecting tools.
“I wanted to look them in the eye. I didn’t want it to be some impersonal thing where he is 100 feet away from me,” stated Joe Rogan, interviewing contained in the ring.
Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer wore a masks cage-side, eradicating it for introductions and outcomes whereas contained in the ring.
Gaethje pummelled Ferguson from the opening bell, swelling each his eyes and reducing him on the cheek. Referee Herb Dean stopped the combat after Gaethje landed a stable left that wobbled Ferguson.
Each foremost occasion fighters made weight on Friday at a weigh-in the place media members and most UFC workers had been stored at a distance, these nearer to the fighters wore masks and the size was sanitized.