While the combat sports world prepares to welcome back live events with UFC 249 scheduled for this weekend, things will look incredibly different on fight night. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed everyday life around the world, the UFC’s return to live events will look significantly different, without fans, limited media, and a broadcast team separated.
The task will remain the same: two fighters in their respective weight classes will face each other not only looking to win, but continue the story of their career and rise up in the division, and for the case in two of the fights, walk away with championship gold.
In combat sports, the narrative of fighters’ fame and popularity is told by the cheers, boos, and chatter of fans either in the arena, at a local restaurant watching the fights, or at home with friends and family, but without those voices, the stories of these fights will need to be told differently.
There is likely to be a whole lot of new eyes on the UFC this weekend with most places still under quarantine lockdown, this will be the first live sporting event to take place in the United States and for four hours, the fights will be broadcasted for free on ESPN.
With a stellar broadcast team of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier, viewers will not only get a great amount of MMA knowledge in each fight, but three of the very best who can tell stories of these fighters will also be called upon to do so.
However, it won’t just be about the broadcast team at UFC 249, it’ll be, as it always should be, about the fighters and their respective corners. From what the UFC has said, there will be more of a focus on providing viewers with more access to hear the corner and what instructions are being shouted as the fight is going on. Furthermore, every strike, every punch, every kick, every takedown, and quite possibly any broken bones, will be heard because of the unique setting.
There will also be an element of emotion on display in these fights. Back on March 14 in Brazil, the last live UFC event to take place before the lockdown, Gilbert Burns defeated Demian Maia and let out a yell that was eerie in sound but confirmed a new contender in the welterweight division.
The systems in place for UFC 249 might be unique under the unfortunate circumstances worldwide, but the UFC will return as a distraction from the devastating pandemic, hope for better days, and excitement for those interested in mixed martial arts. This time around, however, the stories will be told inside the cage rather than word of mouth.