After multiple delays and relocations, UFC 249 got underway on Saturday against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Smilin” Sam Alvey had jokes to kick off the comeback event.
The 34-year-old light heavyweight was the first fighter introduced at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville and made the most of his spotlight, acknowledging and high-fiving “fans” as he walked to the Octagon.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2020
Of course there were no fans in the stands as the event took place amid coronavirus social-distancing protocols. But that didn’t stop Alvey from living up to his monicker.
Alvey entered the Octagon as a heavy underdog against Ryan Spann. But after escaping a first-round choke hold, he put up a good fight and almost closed Spann out with some heavy blows late in the third round before Spann ultimately secured a split decision on the judges’ scorecards.
Buffer goes big
Alvey wasn’t the only one to make a big entrance on Saturday as ring announcer Bruce Buffer’s jacket threatened to steal the show.
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) May 9, 2020
UFC under pressure
UFC is under a tremendous amount of scrutiny with Saturday’s event that’s taking place as the coronavirus continues to take a deadly toll in Florida and the United States. Especially after one fight was canceled when Ronaldo Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 before the fight.
From the producers to the announcers to the fighters, everyone in the building is intent on putting on a good show.
More UFC 249 coverage from Yahoo Sports: