The Association of Ringside Physicians has called for an indefinite suspension of combat sports events, while the California State Athletic Commission has stated that they will not regulate UFC 249. Despite everything, the UFC will skirt the rules and reportedly push through with hosting multiple events in tribal land, at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort.
So what are the measures the UFC will take while bullishly hosting an event during the height of a pandemic? Well, Dana White has been mostly tight lipped about answering questions from the “scumbag” media, but the promotion does leak some info to their favorite outlets. Kevin Iole was one of those to speak to the UFC, and while not a complete list, here’s a rundown of some of the measures that will be put in place.
- Only UFC and venue staff will be allowed inside the resort, and everyone will be subjected to “advanced” medical screening.
- The number of doctors typically working UFC events will be doubled, and there will be a “level 1 trauma center” available during fight nights for those that will need medical attention after their bouts.
- Treadmills and portable saunas will be put in fighters’ rooms, and an outdoor running track will be built in the resort so fighters can still train and cut weight during fight week.
- The event is closed off to fans, but a “small number” of media will still be allowed to attend the show.
- Housekeeping staff won’t be given access to rooms once a fighter has checked in. Baskets will be available outside their rooms for towels and other amenities they may need replaced.
- UFC commentators will “likely” be in the same room, but “not directly against the Octagon.”
- Social distancing will still be implemented. They will make sure there won’t be more than 10 people in the same room.
It’s unclear if that 10-person rule only applies on non-fight nights and on rooms outside the main venue. With fighters, cornermen, referee, judges, cutmen, doctors, cameramen, commentators, and other officials and event staff, it seems pretty much impossible to have less than 10 people inside the actual venue during fight night.
Apart from “advanced medical screening,” actual COVID-19 testing wasn’t mentioned specifically on the report. A veteran ringside physician also previously explained that simply testing negative for the coronavirus wouldn’t be a sufficient enough measure.
White refused to answer a question specifically about COVID-19 testing before, but he did claim recently that “everybody is going to be pre-tested, and tested, and tested and tested” in this event.
If he indeed meant that several coronavirus tests — not just temperature checks — will be done per person on every single fight week, it would be interesting to see how and where those all will be coming from. Many areas and patients have had problems getting tested in the past, and this measure would require a lot of test kits and resources to accomplish.