UFC President Dana White confirmed on Twitter that UFC 261 is destined for Jacksonville, Fl. White expects the event to have a sellout crowd for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The 15,000-seat VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena hosts the event on April 24.
Tickets for the event have yet to go on sale. The MMA community initially expected Texas to host UFC 260 after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ended the state’s mask mandate and allowed full capacity events. This was also the case for Mississippi and Florida. According to White, Abbott is at odds with local governments in the state.
Spokesperson Tela Mange said Texas is still evaluating its COVID-19 protocols. Venues owners may also implement their own precautions. The conflict continues despite the Texas athletic commission saying moving forward was a simple matter of paperwork.
“They [the UFC] have to find a venue, and they have to send us the paperwork, and then we go from there,” Mange said last week.
There is no word yet on if Jacksonville will host multiple events as the pandemic continues. The same venue was expected to host UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje last May. The event was moved to New York due to the pandemic.
As of March 16 Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has had 90,716 COVID-19 cases and 1,246 deaths. Just over 20% of Florida has received at least one vaccine dose. Just under 12% of the state has been fully vaccinated according to Our World Data.