Prior to this past Saturday, UFC 249 had been talked about being held everywhere, from the UFC Performance Institute in Nevada to an undisclosed island to literally anywhere on earth.
As Florida began to open for businesses, the WWE, which is based in Orlando, continued to produce shows. White saw a lane for UFC 249 to be held in Jacksonville with no fans, which happened on Saturday evening.
With only one fight being cancelled, the UFC put forth one of their most star-studded cards in the company’s history amid the pandemic.
There were two stunners in both championship bouts. Former double champion and current UFC Bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo finished former two-time Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who had been competing in his first fight since December 30, 2016.
Cruz, who entered with a 22-2 record, was stopped by Cejudo in round two, bumping up the defending champion’s record to 16-2 for his career. According to Cejudo, that’s where it will end.
“I’m retiring,” Cejudo told Joe Rogan after the fight. “I want to walk away and enjoy myself. I'm 33 years old, and I have a girl now watching me from back home. Since I was 11, I've sacrificed my life to get to where I was tonight, I'm retiring.”
White later said the announcement didn’t come as a surprise to him.
“Cejudo has been talking about retirement to us for months,” he said. “I'm of the belief that if you're talking about retirement in the fight business, you should probably retire.”
In the final fight of the night, Justin Gaethje dominated UFC Interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson for a fifth-round TKO stoppage. Ferguson had entered with 12 straight wins on his record, and now sees his career redcord drop to 25-4.
Gaethje, who’ll likely face the 28-0 Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov next, improves to 22-2 upon securing his first UFC Championship.
“It feels good,” he said. “Not many people in the world, much less fighters in the UFC, get to achieve this.”
“I’ll wait for the real one,” he said. “You can never be satisfied.”