According to reporting from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC is planning to return on May 9 at a to-be-determined location. The promotion is planning an incredible card that features three championship bouts and a plethora of other can’t-miss scraps.
The fights aren’t all signed and sealed quite yet, but it has the makings to be one of the best the UFC has ever put on. The venue will likely remain a mystery until the week of the show, with possibilities including ‘Fight Island,’ Tachi Palace Casino in California and The Sunshine State.
In a press release that went out Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis added multiple exceptions to the state’s “essential businesses,” including “some sporting events, including the WWE.”
Not only are there three title bouts, including Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje in the headliner, but there’s a rematch between Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, the UFC’s leader in career wins, and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, the former lightweight champion in the WEC and UFC.
Pettis beat Cerrone by first-round knockout with a body kick at UFC on FOX in Chicago back in January of 2013. More than seven years later, Cerrone will be looking for revenge and to avoid the first four-fight losing streak of his career.
In fairness to ‘Cowboy,’ the 37-year-old’s recent defeats came against the world’s best in Ferguson, Gaethje and Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor.
Pettis is in a slump of his own after losing a unanimous decision to Nate Diaz at UFC 241, before falling to Carlos Diego Ferreira via second-round submission at UFC 246 on Jan. 18. ‘Showtime’ is mired in a 4-8 slump in his last 12 fights.
The first Pettis-Cowboy match was contested at lightweight. They’ll trade hands in a 170-pound showdown this time.
The two other title fights are Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz and Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer. Cejudo will be looking to defend his bantamweight championship against the loop’s former kingpin, Dominick ‘The Dominator’ Cruz, who is returning to the Octagon for the first time since since Dec. 30 of 2016 when he lost his belt to Cody Garbrandt.
To put that layoff into perspective, that was the same night that Nunes sent Ronda Rousey into retirement. Furthermore, it’s a longer stretch of inactivity than when Cruz was out from Oct. 1 of 2011 to September of 2014 due to blowing his knee out twice.
BetOnline has Cejudo installed as a -225 ‘chalk’ vs. Cruz (+190). The offshore shop has Ferguson as a -180 favorite vs. Gaethje (+155). We took a deeper look at the Ferguson-Gaethje showdown earlier this month.
Nunes is going back up to 145 pounds to defend her women’s featherweight strap for the first time. Since winning this belt away from Cris Cyborg in December of 2018 via first-round knockout, Nunes has gone back down in weight and defended her bantamweight title twice with a first-round KO of Holly Holm and a UD triumph over Germaine de Randamie.
Spencer (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has won with first-round finishes in both of her victories since joining the promotion. Her only loss came to Cyborg in a competitive scrap, one in which Cyborg had to cope with a big cut on her forehead opened up by a huge elbow from Spencer in the opening stanza.
The heavyweight showdown between Francis Ngannou (-300) and Rosenstruik (+250) is back on again for this date. The winner will most likely get a title shot versus the winner of Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier (presuming that trilogy showdown will take place at some point later this year).
But wait, there’s (A LOT) more! Four other fights from the UFC 249 lineup have been shifted to this date, including Calvin Kattar (-240) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+205), Greg Hardy (-190) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+165), Jacare Souza (-130) vs. Uriah Hall (+110) and Vicente Luque (-250) vs. Niko Price (+210).
The rest of the card features former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum (-300) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+240) in a battle of two of the promotion’s best submission artists. Oleinik is best known for his Ezekiel Chokes, as he owns the only two in UFC history. Both men are 42 years of age, with Werdum returning to the Octagon for the first time since March of 2018 due to a two-year USADA suspension.
Anothe former champ in the women’s strawweight loop, Carla Esparza, is listed as a -130 favorite vs. Michelle ‘The Karate Hottie’ Waterson (+110). Finally, unbeaten Arkansas product (who want some camo shorts, Reebok!), Bryce ‘Thug Nasty’ Mitchell, will take on Charles Rosa in a featherweight contest.
Mitchell is a -195 favorite vs. Rosa (+170). In his last outing, Mitchell joined ‘The Korean Zombie’ as the only UFC fighter to win by a twister submission.