Dana White Goes All-In On UFC Restart, Announces Full Cards For Next Three Events

Dana White at UFC Fight Night Andrade v Zhang
Dana White at UFC Fight Night Andrade v Zhang / Zhe Ji/Getty Images

Dana White made a huge announcement Friday, as he revealed full cards for three events the UFC will hold in an eight day span later this month. All three shows would be held in Jacksonville, Florida as the state begins to ease lockdown restrictions.

Starting with UFC 249 on May 9, the organization will host three events in just more than a week. On Wednesday, May 13 a UFC Fight Night card will be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Glover Teixeira (30-7) and Anthony Smith (33-14). Then on May 16, another Fight Night card will feature Alistair Overeem (45-18, 1 no contest) and Walt Harris (13-7, 1 no contest) battling in a heavyweight main event. Both of those bouts were scheduled for April but were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

White is going all-in on the UFC's restart. While other leagues are still trying to figure out how to move forward, he's clearly banking on being able to draw eyes to his events as the only game in town. It might just be a brilliant plan to increase the sport's popularity as casual fans might tune in due to a lack of other sports options.

It's worth noting, all of these events will be held without fans but the full Fight Night cards will be aired on ESPN. UFC 249's preliminary card will be on ESPN, while the main card will be available on pay-per-view.

The UFC was forced to cancel six events as the pandemic brought the sports world to a halt beginning in early March. UFC 249 has been delayed for weeks with the main event and several undercards changing. The original headlining bout was a long-anticipated showdown between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title. That fight is off now, as Nurmagomedov is stuck in Russia due to travel restrictions.

UFC 249 will now feature Tony Ferguson (25-3) facing Justin Gaethje (21-2) for the interim lightweight title as its main event. Ferguson and Gaethje are both action fighters, so that bout should be a blast. The co-main event will be a battle between current bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo (15-2) and the former champ, Dominick Cruz (22-2). Cruz hasn't fought since December 30, 2016 after suffering numerous injuries. In that bout, he lost the bantamweight title and never had a chance to regain it.

We'll see if the gambit pays off for White and the UFC. MMA fans have been begging for a return to action but many questions whether diving back so quickly is safe. It's certainly a risk but, as we've discussed before, it could pay off big-time for the UFC.