Recently UFC president Dana White announced that the promotion’s next pay-per-view, UFC 261, would take place at an arena with a “full house of fans”. This announcement came despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that people continue to demonstrate physical distancing and not attend mass gatherings in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.
UFC 261 is set to take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. The card boasts three title fights including Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal, Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shechenko vs. Jessica Andrade. That arena is expected to be full capacity on fight night with 15,000 fans.
White recently claimed ticket sales for UFC 261 have already broken the arena record. The price of tickets certainly helped that. At this time of writing the cheapest tickets available for the event are up in the nosebleeds for over $500. Seats a few rows removed from cageside currently run upwards of $8,000.
Before purchasing a ticket with Ticketmaster would-be attendees are met with a warning that, because the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing that there is a risk that this event could be cancelled.
With vaccinations rolling out at a great speed in the US cases and deaths are dropping across the country. Even so, Florida is still reporting over 5,000 new cases a day. Cases in Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, are hovering at around 115 per day, a massive drop from the over 1,000 cases a day that were being reported in January.
A reminder that COVID-19 is still a threat comes on the fine print of UFC 261’s tickets. The UFC’s warnings regarding the virus were shared by MMA Mania on Twitter.
According to that outlet the ticket fine print includes a warning that attendance at UFC 261 “may lead to exposure to COVID-19 and that contraction of COVID-19 may result in severe and permanent damage to the health of the Holder and/or others, including, but not limited to, death, fever, weigh loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, loss of taste or smell, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses...”
This addition to the UFC’s tickets is designed to protect the UFC from civil or criminal legal action should individuals contract, get sick or die from COVID-19 as a direct result of attending the show.
It’s unclear if the UFC or the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena will enforce the wearing of face masks. Florida has no mask mandate. The state government recommends the use of masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, but has not enacted any kind of order to enforce that. The city of Jacksonville enacted a mask mandate last June for individuals in public indoor spaces. However, that mandate was allowed to expire a few days ago (per News 4 JAX).