The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, but that isn’t stopping UFC president Dana White from planning an event at full capacity in an indoor arena. UFC 261 will be held at full capacity, welcoming 15,000 fans on April 24 to VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

There are currently no restrictions on event sizes in Florida, despite recommendations against gathering in large numbers by health experts due to the potential of a super-spreader event.

“I have been waiting a year for this day to tell you that we are back,” White said in a video posted on social media. “I just want to say thank you Jacksonville, I love you guys and we will see you soon.”

UFC has not had a full arena event since the start of the pandemic, but did have a few thousand fans at three events on Yas Island — better known as “Fight Island” — in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

It is currently unknown what health and safety protocols will be put in place for UFC 261.

UFC 261 will feature three title fights. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will have a rematch with Jorge Masvidal in the main event. Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title against Jessica Andrade, and strawweight champ Zhang Weili will face former champion Rose Namajunas.

UFC is not alone in welcoming back full capacity crowds. The Texas Rangers aren’t restricting capacity for opening day, while a Professional Riders event is taking it one step further — planning to hold an indoor event in South Dakota without requiring the wearing of masks.

According to the New York Times, there have been over 1.9 million COVID-19 cases in Florida resulting in 32,448 deaths. As with most of the United States, case numbers in Florida have been steadily going down as the population gets vaccinated. Still, on Monday Florida reported 2,826 new cases and 93 new deaths from the virus.


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