Less than two hours ago, UFC suffered a major blow when Ronaldo Souza tested positive for COVID-19. His bout with Uriah Hall was canceled, but damage has already been done: fighters, UFC staffers, and officials have all potentially been exposed — and the fights haven’t even happened yet!
UFC has released an official statement on the situation:
“The middleweight bout between Uriah Hall vs Jacaré Souza will no longer be on the UFC 249 preliminary card due to one of Souza’s COVID-19 tests indicating a positive result.
In addition, COVID-19 tests for Souza’s two cornermen were also flagged as positive. UFC’s medical team examined Souza and his two cornermen and found them to be currently asymptomatic, or not exhibiting the common symptoms of COVID-19. As per UFC’s health and safety protocols, all three men have left the host hotel and will be self-isolating off premises, where UFC’s medical team will monitor their conditions remotely and will provide assistance with any necessary treatment.
From their arrival earlier in the week until their departure today, Souza and his cornermen followed UFC health and safety protocols, including practicing social distancing, wearing personnel protective equipment, and self-isolating whenever possible.
There have been no other positive COVID-19 tests reported from the remaining athletes participating in UFC 249.
The response to this development is indicative of the effectiveness of the health and safety measures UFC has put in place for this event.”
The news that two of Souza’s cornerman also tested positive is seriously bad, even if they were asymptomatic. Each person carrying the virus exponentially increases the odds that someone else at the event / hotel will contract Coronavirus, particularly since Souza and his cornermen were around fighters cutting weight (and compromising their immune systems in the process).
The good news (if that’s possible here) is that Souza drove from Orlando to Jacksonville, minimizing his interactions with strangers on his trip to the host hotel:
For what it’s worth, Jacare Souza told me last week that he was going to be driving to Jacksonville in his family car with his corner people. He lives near Orlando. Did not fly in. Also, Jacare had been training exclusively out of his home gym with coaches and few teammates.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) May 9, 2020
Nevertheless, this is a major problem for UFC, which makes the portion of the statement that touts the “effectiveness of the health and safety measures” seem rather tone deaf. Even with Souza’s fight canceled, other fighters and personnel have potentially been put at risk (the opposite of safety).
Here’s to hoping this is the last positive test from UFC 249, an optimistic idea that appears less likely with each news break.