The UFC has finally found a location for their upcoming pay-per-view card after weeks of searching. According to The New York Times, as the Tachi Palace Casino in California will host UFC 249 on April 18th. Jeff Sherwood first reported the news.
UFC 249 card was originally scheduled to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus putting a halt to sporting events around the globe, the New York State Athletic Commission would not authorize the event and the UFC were forced to find a new venue.
The Tachi Palace Casino Resort — home to the defunct Tachi Palace Fights and several WEC shows — is located in Lemoore, California and sits on land owned by the Tachi-Yokut Tribe, who are part of the federally recognized Santa Rosa Indian Community. This means they are exempt from guidelines against holding large gatherings during Covid-19, and do not have to be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission.
Interestingly enough, the casino has been temporarily closed since March 20th as a response to the pandemic. The UFC intends to run its next four cards at this venue, with a private island expected to be secured for international fighters who cannot travel to the US.
A press release from the CSAC released on Monday read the following.
“The commission echoes the guidance of California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Department of Public Health, local health officials, and the recommendations of the Association of Ringside Physicians regarding the cancellation of events where people may be at risk of contracting Covid-19 and encourages the industry to do the same,” the California athletic commission said in a statement. “The commission will not participate in the U.F.C. event on April 18, regardless of the event location.”
The last-minute location change is just one of the many problems the UFC 249 card has encountered in the last week. A handful of matchups were scrapped as fighters were forced off of the card due to travel restrictions, including UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov who was scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson in the main event.
Instead, top contender Justin Gaethje will now fight Ferguson for the interim lightweight title.