UFC Fight Night plans Jacksonville return June 24 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Clayton Freeman Florida Times-Union
UFC is kicking its way back to Jacksonville this summer.
The mixed martial arts circuit announced its return to the First Coast with UFC Fight Night on June 24 at Jacksonville's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
The full card, schedule and ticket details remain to be determined, but UFC president Dana White announced the featured fight is scheduled to match featherweights Josh Emmett, ranked fifth in the division, and Ilia Topuria, ranked ninth.
The city will also pick up national network exposure, with the fights televised on ABC.
While no title belts are on the line June 24 — unlike UFC's three numbered events held in Jacksonville since 2020 — Northeast Florida is still on course to see at least two ranked fighters in action, and potentially more depending on how the remainder of the card fills out.
Emmett, 38, holds an 18-3 career record. He fought for the interim featherweight championship in February, but lost to Yair Rodriguez at UFC 284 in Australia, a defeat that ended a streak of five victories.
Topuria, representing the former Soviet republic of Georgia, was born in Germany but fights and trains out of Spain. The 26-year-old is 13-0 in mixed martial arts, winning four of his last six fights by knockout.
In his announcement of the matchup, White described the contest as "two savages with knockout power, and that is a very fun fight."
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For Jacksonville, the UFC Fight Night will be the circuit's fourth separate stop in Jacksonville, and the sixth event overall.
UFC made its Jacksonville debut in May 2020, which was then the first sporting event to resume after the coronavirus pandemic halted activities worldwide that March. The series held three cards, the pay-per-view UFC 249 and two UFC Fight Nights, within an eight-day span at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
The series returned to Jacksonville a year later for UFC 261, highlighted by Kamaru Usman's rematch against Jorge Masvidal, under circumstances that made headlines nationwide: The fight card was the first major full-capacity indoor sporting event in the nation since the onset of the pandemic, and drew the arena's record crowd of 15,269.
Last year, UFC 273 returned to Jacksonville, again in April, with Alexander Volkanovski and Aljamain Sterling winning in title fights on the main pay-per-view card.