The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) match scheduled for Saturday night was set to be the first major athletic event to be held since the coronavirus shut down the world of professional sports. The planned restart, however, experienced a bit of a hiccup.
The Washington Examiner reports that just hours before the fight was about to take place, one of the participants — Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza — learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The fight between Souza and Uriah Hall was set to take place in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night. The two were scheduled to face off just before the main event of the evening pitting Tony Ferguson against Justin Gaethje.
It turned out, however, that the fight between Souza and Hall just wasn’t meant to be, as not only Souza but also members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19 just hours before the matchup.
“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,” UFC officials announced, according to ESPN.
“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,” they added.
UFC defends decision to hold event
Something like this, of course, is the reason why professional sports have yet to resume. The concern is that in such an environment, with thousands of people in attendance, the coronavirus could easily be spread.
Dana White, the UFC’s president, has already begun to address the criticism that he will no doubt face over his decision to hold the event.
“We administered 1,200 tests this week, on 300 people,” he said, according to ESPN. “It’s not unexpected one person would test positive. The system works. And what’s good about this is now we know Jacare tested positive, he’s doing what he needs to do, and we’re in a position to help him if he needs it.”
It remains to be seen whether others in the sports world agree.
The show must go on
Hall, for his part, issued a statement directed specifically to Souza on Twitter, saying, “Brother I know it sucks[;] I’m sorry you have to go through this I am beyond devastated for the missed opportunity[.] I wish you nothing but recovery for you and your family.”
The Ferguson versus Gaethje match did, however, take place as scheduled, with the latter fighter declared the winner in Round 5 of the event, according to CBS Sports.