JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s fight day!
The stage is set and fighters are ready to face off in front of 15,000 fans packed into the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship 261 event.
It’s the first time the city of Jacksonville will host an indoor sporting event to a sold-out crowd at full capacity during the pandemic.
The event sold out within minutes when tickets went on sale last month. UFC 261 has three title fights. The early prelims begin at 5:45 p.m. and the main card starts at 10 p.m.
While there will be a full house, those attending Saturday night will sign a waiver and be required to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.
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Fans and fighters alike are ready to get back to live sporting events.
UFC fighter Valentina Shevchenko said she wants to prove to her fans that she is the best.
“This is the same goal I have all the time, every time...and to prove that I am [the] real champion here for [a] long time in flyweight,” Shevchenko said.
UFC fan Andrew Steimmetz doesn’t feel too nervous about attending Saturday’s event despite the large crowd and is anxious to see the fights.
He said he doesn’t think it’s really that big of a deal.
“A lot of people are getting vaccinated, and if you’re a sickly person, you should stay home, but if you are not and want to attend these events you should be able to,” Steimmetz said.
This is the second event UFC has held in Jacksonville during the pandemic. Last year, three nights of fights were held, but there were no fans in attendance.