UFC president Dana White announced Monday that April's UFC 261 will be held at the Vystar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, with no restrictions on attendance.
As part of the announcement, White announced three title matches for the April 24th pay-per-view: welterweight champion Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal II; women's strawweight champion Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas; and women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade.
White expects a sellout of 14,000-15,000. Since the pandemic started, he has said repeatedly in interviews and press conferences that UFC would be "the first ones back" but his efforts at recently booking shows in Dallas and Houston, Texas, were rebuffed. No other major U.S. sport has returned without attendance restrictions while some have still not allowed fans back in arenas or stadiums.
White said tickets will go on sale soon. He did not mention if any pandemic-related rules would be in place (masks, temperature checks, etc.)
When UFC returned to action last May after nearly two months of pandemic-induced inactivity, it was at the Vystar Arena as they held three events in one week in front of no fans. The company set up event bubbles at their Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, enabling them to resume their regular schedule. During their last run at Yas Island, they had limited fans in attendance.
Last fall, Florida governor Ron DeSantis eased restrictions on sporting events within the state with pro and college teams treading lightly with allowing fans back in the stands. WWE and AEW have both called Florida their home throughout the pandemic and while AEW has had limited fans at Daily's Place in Jacksonville for several months, WWE will welcome back fans for the first time since last March as they hope to sell 45,000 tickets per night at next month's WrestleMania in Tampa, Florida.