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| Sports |

Ultimate Fighting Championship Returns to Houston Saturday Night

Alex "The Great White" Morono gets ready to fight during UFC 247 at the Toyota Center.
Alex "The Great White" Morono gets ready to fight during UFC 247 at the Toyota Center.
Photo by Jack Gorman
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Some of the world’s most elite fighters will be competing at UFC 262 in the Toyota Center in front of more than 20,000 rabid fight fans this Saturday night. The MMA promotion is bringing a stacked card headlined by the UFC Lightweight Title Fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira.

UFC President Dana White was excited about Governor Greg Abbott opening up the state to 100 percent capacity in early March. He jumped at staging the first fully opened event event in the Texas, specifically Dallas or Houston. In the end though, UFC 261 was hosted by Jacksonville, Florida. The first major event included three championship fights.

Arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov vacated the lightweight title upon announcing his retirement with a record of 29-0 in October 2020. This set the match up for the headlining fight between “Iron” Mike Chandler and Brazilian finisher Charles Oliveira in Houston.

Chandler is a former Bellator lightweight champion and collegiate wrestler. He finished his first UFC fight in less that three minutes. Oliveira is also an accomplished fighter trained in Brazilian jui-jitsu who has finished 27 of 30 fights by knocking out or submitting his opponent.

The event was to be co-headlined by fan-favorite Nate Diaz, but his fight with Leon Edwards had to be postponed due to an undisclosed injury. The new co-main event will see another high-profile brawler Tony Ferguson take on Beneil Dariush. Ferguson stole the Pre-Fight Press Conference with his verbal jabs at others on the panel.

There will definitely be blood, but what about COVID? It is unclear if safety protocols for fans attending UFC 262 will be similar to those for Rockets games. At the time of this writing it had been only a few hours since the CDC announced fully vaccinated people could be maskless both indoors and outdoors.

Update10:30 a.m.: We received this statement from the Toyota Center:

We look forward to having you at Toyota Center this Saturday for UFC 262. Please arrive early and plan accordingly as this event will be at full capacity and sold out. Doors will open at 4:15 p.m. with the first fight scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m.

Before you arrive, please note that some things might have changed since the last time you attended an event at Toyota Center.

Every ticketed fan will need to answer a series of health questions within 48 hours of entering the arena. Ticketed fans will receive this survey by e-mail to the address on file within 48 hours of the event. All members of the party, including minors, must complete the survey to enter. Fans can also text "ROCKETSHEALTH" to 55678 and click on the link in the reply message to take the survey within 48 hours of the game. For entry, fans will show a personalized confirmation page with their passing results to the usher at the entry doors.

Wearing a proper face mask while inside Toyota Center during this event is encouraged unless actively eating or drinking.

All tickets purchased for this event are digital. Guests will manage and scan their tickets through the Houston Rockets mobile app. Please download the app and sign in to your account before arriving to the arena.

There will be a strict “no bag policy” for all guests entering the arena to help improve the touchless fan environment. Bag lockers will be available on a rental basis for fans that need them at our Jackson Street Entrance.

All point of sales at Toyota Center is now cashless. All guests must use a credit card or contactless payment option to purchase tickets, concession items and retail items at all locations.

Fans and working staff should not come to Toyota Center if they or anyone in their group has COVID-19, has COVID-19 symptoms or knows they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Please stay at home if you are feeling sick and keep everyone safe!


The card for Saturday night:

Main Card
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo
Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza
Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin

Prelims
Ronaldo Souza vs. Andre Muniz
Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy
Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett


Match-ups begin at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, May 15. Limited Ultimate Fighting Championship tickets are available through the Toyota Center website or through the UFC website. $99 and up.

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