Combat Sports

UFC 249: Twitter satisfied without fans, but what about other sports?

emptyufc.jpg
USATSI

UFC 249: Twitter satisfied without fans, but what about other sports?

There was blood, upsets, retirements and nobody there to see it. The UFC prevailed Saturday night as the rest of the sports world remains paused amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

As there is with anything else, sports or not, some were unsatisfied watching UFC without fans in the stands. But majority rules, and the event seemed to be a success, as seen with reactions on social media. 

Without the noise of fans, kicks and punches clearly were heard over TV screens and streaming devices. Coaching could be heard, too, giving fighting fans an inside look at the sport. There's no doubt crowd noise helps the viewing pleasure of a major fight, but it's not the main draw to watching mixed martial arts. 

This is much different than, say, the WWE, whose main purpose is entertainment. It was beyond odd watching any clips of wrestlers trying to pump up a "crowd." When Sam Alvey high-fived "fans" in Jacksonville, Fla., though, it was funny. UFC viewers tune in for the fight, not the show.

Baseball-starved fans are staying up late into the night or waking up much before the crack of dawn to watch the Korean Baseball Organization. There are no fans in attendance at KBO games, but some teams are using cardboard cutouts in the stands. 

Changes will need to be made without fans in attendance. That could be allowing doctored crowd noise, music being played or a number of different options. It will be easy to watch golf or NASCAR without fans live at the events. Regarding sports like baseball, basketball, football and soccer, fans at home must be patient. 

It won't be perfect. That's not the point, though. Every day is a new obstacle in these tough times, and fans must adapt just as athletes do throughout their respective games to be successful. 

[RELATED: UFC 249, Cormier taught sports world an important lesson]

When sports safely can be played, it's almost a guarantee fans won't be allowed inside stadiums and arenas. There will be odds scenes, camera manipulations and awkward silences. 

And that's OK. 

The success rate of watching games without fans in person will be a case-by-case basis. But we'll adapt, we have to.

Sometimes that's just how it goes.

How UFC, Daniel Cormier showed sports world important lesson right now

hardyus.jpg
USATSI

How UFC, Daniel Cormier showed sports world important lesson right now

The UFC once again continued on during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with UFC 249 on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. In an empty arena, an unexpected conundrum took place.

UFC commentators sit ringside and have their eyes and ears on the action. This brings great reactions and smart analysis. But Saturday night, it also made for extra coaching. 

Carla Esparza and Greg Hardy both admitted to hearing former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier's commentary and using it to their advantage. 

"Thank god for not having the crowd," Hardy said. "Shout out to DC, I heard him tell me to go out and check it and I need to figure out how to check it. So I started trying to check him and ... game changer."

As the rest of the sports world waits to return, they can learn valuable lessons from this. There's no doubt games will be played without fans in attendance, so what does a sport like basketball do with announcers sitting courtside? Mark Jackson might unintentionally become a coach again without even trying. 

Imagine if an announcer is critiquing a player's defense or is pointing out how a team's offense can exploit a hole in the opposition's defense. In these odd circumstances, this might be the time for leagues to allow arenas/stadiums to pump up fake crowd noise. That wouldn't come without controversy, though. 

Of course, teams would pump up more noise when the other team has the ball, or if the other team is at bat in the case of baseball, too. Without fans in the stands, home-field advantage somewhat is out the door. This could be a way to bring that back and bring more of a sense of normalcy for players, as long as there are restrictions on when teams are allowed to play doctored fan noise and music. 

[RELATED: Hardy's continued UFC presence should offend, insult us all]

Cormier couldn't avoid being heard. He was doing his job and needs to give the proper analysis. This won't be a problem in football, and likely not in baseball, but that could change when broadcast booth windows are opened on a warm day or if announcers are moved to the stands to maintain social distancing. 

The Korean Baseball Organization is using cardboard cutouts of fans at games right now to make the viewing experience from home a bit more normal. Perhaps American sports will do something of that sort when they resume as well. 

Sports have fans. They have noise, music, food vendors and announcers alike. There will be ways to make games feel somewhat more "normal." 

Pump up crowd noise. Play music. Have a recording of a food vendor yelling "Hot dogs!" and "Beer, $16!" There was plenty to learn from a bloody night in Florida. 

And Cormier doing his job was a lesson that can't be overlooked.

UFC 249 results: Gaethje-Ferguson fight card decisions, judges' scores

justingaethjeusatsi.jpg
USATSI

UFC 249 results: Gaethje-Ferguson fight card decisions, judges' scores

After two months without live-actIon sports because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, fans across the United States finally got their fix Saturday night with 11 fights at UFC 249.

After postponing the event in April, UFC president Dana White was able to move it to Jacksonville, Florida, with the interim lightweight championship fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje headlining the card. Defending champion Khabib Nurmagomedov had to withdraw because he couldn't travel to the event, and he had little to say after Gaethje won by fifth-round TKO.

Here are the results for the entire card, including judges' scores and decisions:

EARLY PRELIMS

Light heavyweight bout: Ryan Spann def. Sam Alvey by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Featherweight bout: Bryce Mitchell def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-24)

PRELIMS

Welterweight bout: Vicente Luque def. Niko Price by TKO (Round 3, 3:37)

Women's strawweight bout: Carla Esparza def. Michelle Waterson by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)

Heavyweight bout: Aleksei Oleinek def. Fabricio Werdum by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Welterweight bout: Anthony Pettis def. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

MAIN CARD

Heavyweight bout: Greg Hardy def. Yorgan De Castro by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Featherweight bout: Calvin Kattar def. Jeremy Stephens by KO (Round 2, 2:49)

Heavyweight bout: Francis Ngannou def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik by KO (Round 1, 0:20)

Bantamweight championship bout: Henry Cejudo def. Dominick Cruz by TKO (Round 2, 4:58)

Interim lightweight championship bout: Justin Gaethje def. Tony Ferguson by TKO (Round 5, 3:39)