The UFC held its first soldout event of the pandemic on Saturday night, hosting 15,000 fans in Jacksonville, Florida.
UFC 261 took place in Jacksonville on Saturday night, with president Dana White hosting a soldout crowd for the fight night.
“I don’t think it gets any better than tonight,” White told reporters.
The venue was packed and several big names were in attendance, according to News 4 in Jacksonville.
Tim Tebow. Gardner Minshew. Tom Brady. Myles Jack. Megan Fox. Machine Gun Kelly. Even YouTuber turned boxer Jake Paul made a cameo and fired up the crowd with repeated two-finger salutes that added to a surreal atmosphere at the arena.
We've had crowds for sporting events for several months, though it's still a bit jarring to see a packed house after a year of mostly-empty stadiums.
While many praised the UFC for hosting a packed event, others criticized the sporting league.
"15K people inside an arena watching UFC tonight in Florida, which had 7400 COVID cases today. Crowd shots show virtually no mask use," Judd Legum tweeted.
UFC president Dana White went after his hometown newspaper for suggesting fans were taking a risk by attending.
"Hey Las Vegas, this is our piece of s--t local newspaper. Through this entire pandemic we didn't lay off a single employee, we worked with governmental agencies in Nevada and around the world to put on every event safely, and we chose to bring our biggest fight of the year with Conor McGregor back to town July 10th to help relaunch the city. Yet, this is how the Las Vegas Review Journal shows its support for a true local business. Go f--- yourself LVRJ, and don't bother coming to the fight in July," he tweeted.
Only time will tell if this was the right move, of course, but it doesn't sound like the UFC is planning on limiting attendance moving forward.