UFC 249 ushers in fan-free, mask-filled era of sports


A worker sprays sanitizer in the octagon between bouts during a UFC 249 mixed martial arts competition, Saturday, May 9, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Kicks, punches and grunts echoed through the empty arena. Coaches, commentators and camera clicks resonated like never before.

Blood, sweat, swollen eyelids and face masks signaled the return of UFC. It was the first major sport to resume since the coronavirus shuttered much of the country for nearly two months.

UFC 249 ushered in a new look for sports, too. One without fans and amid countless safety precautions. It was definitely different and a welcome reprieve for a sports-craved country that went nearly eight weeks without any live events. Justin Gaethje and Henry Cejudo won the main events.

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