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UFC star and referee Trigg: ‘No way’ to make events safe until we fully understand COVID-19

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UFC hall-of-famer turned MMA referee gives his thoughts on sanctioning events.

Frank Trigg didn’t think the previous UFC 249 plan in Tachi Palace was ever going to happen. The UFC Hall-of-Famer turned MMA referee in California believes that event was doomed from the start since it had to deal with government regulations in the state.

Now that UFC is trying to host an event this May, there could be a slightly better chance it pushes through, having both Donald Trump and Florida’s blessing. If you ask Trigg though, there’s just “no way” to safely host an event during this pandemic because we still don’t know enough about the coronavirus.

“There’s no way to make something like this safe until we understand what we’re dealing with,” Trigg told MMA Junkie. “How can we counter it? Is there going to be a vaccine for this thing? There’s no way to make these things safe until we figure this out. The same thing with polio, same thing with leprosy. Until we figure out what it actually is, how it actually progresses, what is actually happening with it, there is no way to make a sporting event safe.”

Dana White has revealed some of the measures he wanted in place for UFC 249, but Trigg doesn’t think it will be enough. Asymptomatic people can easily spread the virus, and even with testing involved, there will still be a lot of people, a lot of travel, and too many chances of exposure to keep things safe.

Related: Doctor: Negative COVID-19 tests aren’t enough

“Say one camera guy, he’s three feet away,” Trigg gave a hypothetical situation. “He’s trying to practice social distancing, but he’s three feet away, but what happens? He goes to a grocery store. A person has COVID. The person who has COVID doesn’t think he has COVID. The camera guy doesn’t think he has COVID because he has a mask on, he’s walking through. They touch with no gloves a thing of ketchup, they put it back, they don’t want to take it, they want something else. That camera guy then picks up that COVID infected thing of ketchup, puts in his bag, goes out and buys it and goes home. Now he’s got COVID in his house.

“But fight’s on Friday, this is Tuesday, he’s not showing any signs. Nothing’s happening. He’s a camera guy not in touch with everybody, but he’s at cageside. He has COVID, but he doesn’t realize it. They don’t know they have it. … All of a sudden he started coughing a little bit, the fighters are below him because he has to get a shot, now they’ve been exposed, that whole group.”

Trigg, 47, is currently a California State Athletic Commission-licensed referee. He retired as a fighter with a 21-9 record, and his iconic bout with Matt Hughes was inducted to the UFC Hall-of-Fame’s Fight Wing in 2015.