THE coronavirus outbreak has decimated sport around the globe – but the UFC is holding firm.
MMA's flagship organisation is flying the flag on the insistence of kingpin Dana White, who is desperate for the show to go on despite the global pandemic.
Next up is UFC 249, which has already been rocked by the withdrawal of lightweight sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov.
How is UFC 249 still going ahead?
ACROSS the world and in the USA, sporting events have fallen victim to the outbreak.
The NBA, MLB and MLS are all currently suspended indefinitely, while golfing majors have been pushed back later into 2020.
Wrestlemania 36 did hit our screens at the weekend though, with the WWE showpiece of the year going out pre-recorded and infront of no spectators.
Dana White has been adamant throughout the crisis that UFC 249 would go ahead.
But that view isn't held by every promoter in the business, with boxing kingpin Bob Arum slamming his MMA counterpart for the decision.
He told CBS: "[White] ought to be ashamed of himself.
"What's going on in this country and the world with this virus, the last thing we need is for an event to take place with no spectators just to get the event to take place.
"But the truth is Dana White is somebody with a flawed intelligence."
White was dealt a huge blow when Khabib announced that he would be unable to travel for the bout due to the current lockdown.
Fight night WILL go ahead on Saturday, April 18.
As yet, there is no confirmed location with White just teasing that it will happen 'somewhere on Earth'.
According to TMZ, the 50-year-old is closing in on a remarkable deal to host future dust-ups on a private island.
It means flying the fighters out on private jets after setting up an Octagon on the secluded location.
He said: "I locked this venue [that will host UFC 249] for two months.
“I have this venue for two months, and we’re setting up shop here. We’re going to be pumping out fights every week.
"I’m also a day or two away from securing a private island."
The UFC boss is also reportedly looking for a venue on the West Coast for UFC 249, where the event may even be allowed to go ahead with fans.
Who has replaced Khabib in main event against Tony Ferguson?
KHABIB out of UFC 249 after Dana White confirmed the Russian star was unable to travel due to the lockdown.
As such, Ferguson will face Justin Gaethje on April 18.
Ferguson has won 12 fights in a row since losing to Michael Johnson in May 2012, while Gaethje has racked up three consecutive KO victories following defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
The full bill for UFC 249 has now been announced, with co-main event Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas II unchanged along with a host of new bouts.
Full UFC 249 card
- Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje (interim lightweight championship)
- Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas (women's straw-weight)
- Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro (heavyweight)
- Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price (welterweight)
- Jeremy Stephens vs Calvin Kattar (featherweight)
- Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (heavyweight)
- Uriah Hall vs Jacare Souza (middleweight)
- Alex Hernandez vs. Omar Antonio Morales (lightweight)
- Marlon Vera vs Ray Borg (bantamweight)
- Michael Johnson vs Khama Worthy (lightweight)
- Sijara Eubanks vs Sarah Moras (women's bantamweight)
- Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey (light heavyweight)
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