sport news Coronavirus: How the UFC are staging three shows in seven days during COVID-19 ...

Sports fans across the world will finally be able to quench their thirst for live, top quality action this Saturday night. 

UFC 249 is the first of three shows being put on in the space of seven days by the leading MMA promotion, a gigantic logistical undertaking at the best of times but even more astonishing during the coronavirus crisis. 

The United States is in lockdown and the country's death toll is 75,000 and counting. The NBA season has been suspended, Major League Baseball's spring training cancelled and all major sporting events on American soil stopped in their tracks. 

Anthony Pettis (pictured) and every fighter are being tested for coronavirus at the UFC hotel

Anthony Pettis (pictured) and every fighter are being tested for coronavirus at the UFC hotel 

Dana White and his team have been working relentlessly to put on three events in a week

Dana White and his team have been working relentlessly to put on three events in a week

But the UFC are no strangers to adversity or controversy and have been working around the clock since the crisis began to find a way they can deliver televised fights. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov's huge clash with Tony Ferguson was shelved with the Russian stuck in lockdown in Dagestan. Then ESPN and Disney intervened to pull the replacement fight between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje which had been arranged to take place at the little known Tachi Palace Casino Resort in California last month. 

The UFC and Dana White remained undeterred and set about working on other contingency plans.

After a phone conference with other sporting leaders and president Donald , there was enough encouragement to overcome the many and varied obstacles.  

'The president feels like sport should be first. We should figure out the sport, let them come out, give the people something,' the UFC chief told Barstool Sports. 

'The hardest part will be, how do you figure out how to put people back in cubicles, how do you send kids back to school. Things like that are going to be much harder than sorting out sporting events. 

'The calls were really good, the president handled them really well and everybody had a lot of good input, it was very cool.' 

UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo (centre) and his team wore masks upon arrival

UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo (centre) and his team wore masks upon arrival

Jacksonville's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will play host to UFC 249 with no fans allowed

Jacksonville's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will play host to UFC 249 with no fans allowed

A 30-page document outlining how the organisation would go to extreme lengths to ensure a safe environment was presented to the governors of both Nevada and Florida. 

The UFC had earmarked Florida as a possible host after the state gave the go-ahead for WWE to put on wrestling shows. They re-classified employees in the entertainment business as 'essential workers' and put on Wrestemania behind closed doors. 

'There's a tonne of places we could go but Florida is the one that made the most sense. I feel like they were the most aggressive. We got the governor, the mayor, the athletic commission,' White said on UFC Embedded. 

'We submitted a 30-page document to the governor of Nevada and Florida showing the steps we'll take to make this thing safe. We're willing to share that document with any of the other leagues, if they want it. We're back, that's it. We're back on May 9.'

Governor Ron DeSantis explained: 'I wanted the wrestling to be filmed in Orlando. They were going to do WrestleMania in April - that was hundreds of millions of dollars. I want to keep that good relationship. I want them to invest in Florida.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, aggressively pursued putting the fights on in his state

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, aggressively pursued putting the fights on in his state

'We got UFC to come to Jacksonville. Again, there's not gonna be any fans. But I think that's gonna be a good event for people.' 

The WWE's example was a clear blueprint for the UFC to follow. 

Now the Sunshine State is playing host to UFC 249 on May 10, UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Teixeira on May 14 and UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Harris on May 17.  Six days later on May 23, White announced they will be hosting an event back in Las Vegas. 

VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will be the venue in Jacksonville for all three events with no fans in attendance - but finding a willing federal government and arena was only the first battle. 

Over the course of a week, 68 fighters on the roster, their coaches and key members of their team will all descend on Jacksonville and the UFC are tasked with not only providing the equipment to allow them to weight cut and arrive on Saturday night ready to fight, but also keep them safe. 

A total of 26 portable saunas were transported to Florida to allow the fighters to cut weight

A total of 26 portable saunas were transported to Florida to allow the fighters to cut weight 

Trucks were loaded up with huge amounts of equipment for three fight nights in a week

Trucks were loaded up with huge amounts of equipment for three fight nights in a week

Usually fighters would be able to share facilities but in the interests of preventing contamination, double the usual number of trucks have been driving across country with individual items for athletes to use. 

Usually the UFC would bring four portable saunas to help the weight cutting process. This time 26 of them have been packed up for transportation. 

Equipment for individual workouts that cannot be shared also has to be provided as well as triple the amount of basic items such as water bottles to accommodate three shows.

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