UFC continues, but not without controversy
by Bryan Fonseca
May 20, 2020 | 6644 views | 0 0 comments | 814 814 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After two months without live sports in America, the UFC became the first major professional league to re-open its doors and return to action, holding UFC 249 – originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn – on May 9 in Jacksonville.

This past week, the promotion returned for two more events in Florida, both of which aired on ESPN, this past Wednesday and Saturday.

On Wednesday, the UFC held a Fight Night event headlined by Glover Teixeira (31-7) recording a fifth-round TKO stoppage victory over fellow former light heavyweight title contender Anthony Smith (33-15).

The card also featured native New Yorker Brian Kelleher (21-10), who stopped the previously undefeated Hunter Azure (8-1) in round two of what was named the Fight of the Night, awarding each fighter a bonus worth $50,000.

On Saturday, the card was headlined by perennial heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem’s (46-18) second-round TKO over rising challenger and sentimental favorite Walt Harris (13-8).

Harris’ missing stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, who was found shot to death, was a driver to Saturday’s card.

Overeem embraced Harris immediately after the fight was over, as Harris remained in a fetal position on the canvas, distraught over his loss one round after nearly recording a stoppage of his own.

“Tonight wasn’t my night, but you best believe I will be back better,” Harris posted on social media. “Thank to everyone for all your love and support.”

In the co-feature, Cooper Union School of Art graduate Angela Hill (12-8) was controversially outpointed by former UFC strawweight title contender Claudia Gadelha (18-4), 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29, despite Hill’s landing more shots and drawing blood from Gadelha’s face, while Hill remained seemingly unfazed.

Hill, who has had seven fights since March of 2019, putting forth a record of 4-3 (though it very easily could be 6-1), already wants to fight again.

“I won that fight,” she said in comment directed at UFC president Dana White. “Book me wherever and I’ll carve up more of your girls.”

Regarding the coronavirus response, White received pushback from the New York Times this week as the newspaper obtained a copy of the UFC’s “Jacksonville Event Operations Plan” to help negate the spread of the virus. Times’ reporter Kevin Draper accused the UFC of not following their own protocol.

“F**k that guy,” White said during the post-fight news conference. “That guy who’s never covered the sport was writing a story about [UFC parent company] Endeavor.”

White accused the Times of using the UFC for content views.

“They did killer traffic,” White said. “Now they’re writing stories, three a week, and they’re posting live results. I don’t care what this guy thinks or what he has to say, what he writes. Good for him, he’s pulling traffic.”

Ronald “Jacare” Souza and his two cornermen remain the only positive COVID-19 tests under UFC guidelines. Souza’s bout with Uriah Hall, scheduled for UFC 249 was cancelled, but the event continued.

Souza released his first public statement regarding the test last week.

“I was very sad to not be able to fight at UFC 249, but I want you to know that as soon as I'm medically cleared, I hope to reschedule my fight with Uriah Hall so that I can put on the show that everyone expects,” he said.

The UFC has already scheduled more events. The promotion is planning a return on May 30 at an undetermined location, featuring a main event between former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) and Gilbert Burns (18-3).

UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes (19-4) is scheduled to defend her latter championship against Felicia Spencer (8-1) on June 6 at UFC 250.
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