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Report: UFC 249 waiver includes fighters, staff and media, who can’t sue if they contract COVID-19

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More details on the UFC 249 waiver signed by all participants.

More details are coming out on the reported waiver relating to coronavirus matters that were signed by participants at UFC 249.

Initially discussed by the New York Times and Yahoo Sports, the waiver allows the UFC to revoke “purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties” if any of the fighters criticize the promotion’s precautions, “whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise.”

ESPN has also now followed up, revealing that those asked to sign the waivers aren’t just fighters. According to the outlet, “participants” as defined and encompassed in the document, includes everyone “involved in the fight card” and “including media in attendance.”

As the report notes: “The waiver includes the assumption of risk for participants if they test positive for the coronavirus and releases the UFC from any responsibility in case of infection.”

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje
MMA media in attendance at UFC 249
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The UFC is insulating themselves from liability, but not only from the actual UFC 249 event itself. As the clause about “assumption of risk” states, it also covers “preparation for, travel for, lodging, attendance at, contact with and consumption or use of, food, beverages and other consumables” for UFC 249.

For all signees, this includes travel, lodging and even food and drink during their stay. For fighters, “preparation” could include training for the event.

So as previously reported, if fighters, staff — and even media, where people are supposed to get news and information from — aren’t happy with any of the health protocols, they will have waived their right to speak out about it. If any of them contracts COVID-19, they also can’t sue the UFC for it.

For example, Jacare and his two teammates have already tested positive for the coronavirus. They, or any of the other participants they may infect, cannot hold the UFC liable if they end up having “severe and permanent damage to health” or other outcomes “not limited to, death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses, which may or may not be covered by insurance, cleaning expenses, mandatory self-quarantine, loss of licenses.”

Dana White has twice now denied the clause about “disparagement,” also going to the UFC 249 post-fight press conference to state that it was only about lying about facts. He then went on to put “creepy little f—king goofball” Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza on blast.

“First of all, there’s something in the contract for disparagement. There’s a disparagement clause in there that’s in all of our contracts,” White said. “If you came out and had something critical to say about the testing that was true, that wouldn’t be disparagement.”

As the New York Times stated earlier, there’s “nothing in the agreement obtained by the Times says that only untrue statements can be punished.” The full non-disparagement clause can be read here.

It is true that UFC has had similar language in past contracts that protect them from potential lawsuits from fighters relating to injuries and other occurrences from bouts. This waiver goes to new territory though by not only including more participants like the media and what they cannot say, but by also going in-depth on a dangerous and contagious virus, as they host events amid a pandemic.