Sports are back this weekend, as UFC 249 is scheduled to go down in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday night. With the NBA, MLB, and NHL seasons suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC will be the first professional sports league to return.
UFC reporter Megan Olivi was recently a guest on ‘MMA Tonight’ on Sirius XM and provided her take on how the UFC can capitalize on the extra attention they will have, and how the event won’t look too different from a production standpoint compared to normal events, minus the lack of a crowd.
🔊 “We can show the world we aren’t the red-headed stepchildren of the sports world,” @MeganOlivi talks to @RJcliffordMMA and @jimmysmithmma about the responsibility the UFC has under the spotlight this weekend at #UFC249 📺 pic.twitter.com/PCiO2Yl6v5
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) May 6, 2020
“No, it’s definitely going to feel like any other UFC,” Olivi said. “All of our cards starting with UFC 249 and on are going to feel like the product everyone is used to at home. I think that we all understand that sometimes we need sports as a distraction, whether it’s the Coronavirus or anything else, that could possibly be going on in the world or in our personal life.”
Due to the circumstances of COVID-19, the UFC has input new safety guidelines and procedures that will force some parts of the event to look different from the rest, but Olivi said that things will still look relatively similar.
“It will be like all the other fight broadcasts you see,” she said. “Yes, some things will look a little different for everybody’s safety but in terms of the overall product, it will be pretty much what you have become accustomed to as a UFC fan.”
Now that the UFC is back in action and will put on three events in eight days, not only is Olivi excited to get back to work, but she sees an opportunity for the UFC to capitalize and gain respect among the other mainstream sports.
“It feels normal,” she said. “I’m excited to go back to work, I have all the faith in our company, in our athletes, in our employees, that we’re putting in the right precautions that we are going to take the right steps to do this well and safely for everyone involved.
“A bunch of people who are at home who would genuinely probably never watch our fights they go ‘Oh, alright well let’s see what this is about’ and then for them to get hooked,” Olivi added. “I think that this card is a brilliant example of some of our best athletes and intense matchups, and I really think that we can get a new fanbase, grow our fanbase, and show the world we aren’t the redheaded-stepchildren of the sports world. We belong up here with everybody else and we’re on ESPN, you’re going to tune in on Saturday night and you’re going to fall in love.”
UFC 249 takes place on Saturday, May 9 starting with the early prelims set to take place at 6pm EST on ESPN/ESPN+ which will then be followed by the prelim card on ESPN, and the PPV portion of the card will take place on ESPN+.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/8/2020.