A DAY BEFORE the UFC 249 event, one of the fighters and two cornermen have tested positive for coronavirus.
Jacare Souza (26-8-1) who was expected to face Uriah Hall (15-9) in a middleweight bout at the Early Prelims. Both fighters made weight, but afterwards it was revealed that Souza and his cornermens' coronavirus tests had come back positive.
Interestingly, during the post weigh-in faceoffs, Souza and Hall maintained distance from each other, while all other fighters got close to each other.
According to Ultimate Fighting Championship officials, Souza had earlier informed the organisation that he had been exposed to a relative who had tested positive for the virus. Following this, extra care was taken to ensure that he and his cornermen remained isolated.
No other fighter, or cornermen, or UFC staff and mediapersons, who had all undergone daily swab tests for COVID-19, had tested positive.
The pay-per-view event, which will take place Saturday evening in Florida, USA (early morning of 10th May in India, with the main card airing live on Sony Ten 2 from 7:30 am onwards) is the premier MMA promotion's comeback event after the coronavirus-induced cancellation.
UFC President Dana White had insisted on carrying on with the events as per schedule but after some interventions by state governments, he was told to stand down by ESPN, the UFC's broadcasting partners.
After a month off air, the UFC is returning with what is being called one of the most stacked cards ever; featuring two world championship fights (Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje for the Interim Lightweight title, Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title). This event will be followed by two more within the next week at the same location.
The promotion has been taking extra precautions to make sure the fighters and other participants in the event do not contract COVID-19; apart from daily tests, fighters have been given their own saunas for weight cutting purposes and training areas have been regularly disinfected after every session.
After Souza's positive test, the promotion said that it would not affect UFC 249's rest of the card since the fighter had contracted the virus before arriving at the location, and the safety measures at the venue have successfully contained the infection. "The system worked," an official told Ariel Helwani of ESPN.