One of the biggest concerns ahead of Saturday’s UFC 249 fight card was realized. On Friday, middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken out of his scheduled prelim fight against Uriah Hall.
What also drew attention was Jacare’s supposed lack of social distancing measures. In a video that circulated that same day, he was seen mingling with fighters, including fellow UFC 249 competitor Fabricio Werdum.
Two of Souza’s cornermen also tested positive for the virus, but the UFC nonetheless praised the “effectiveness” of its own safety protocols for the event. In a later interview with MMA Fighting, Werdum also lauded the company for the measures it implemented.
“The UFC was very careful. The UFC was really well prepared for this event. It’s impressive,” he said. “They were checking our temperature every day, I had to do several exams. I got tested for coronavirus three times since I got there.”
The former heavyweight champion also defended Souza and explained the video of their interaction.
“I wasn’t expecting that ‘Jacare’ thing, but ‘Jacare’ took all the precautions, was wearing a mask and gloves, and so was I,” Werdum said. “I only took the mask off to talk to him a little bit, I was taking the mask off and putting it back on.
“‘Jacare’ is a friend of mine for many years, I really like him. I was sad for him,” he continued. “I texted him and he said he was very upset too because the prejudice is hard. There’s always someone to talk crap. It pisses me off because some people have no respect.
“You think ‘Jacare’ said, ‘Oh, I wanna have the coronavirus’? No, no one wants to have it. No one wants to catch this sh-t and pass it on to their families. Nobody. But it happens. People talk crap, but thank God the UFC is assisting him and he will be alright. He won’t have the strong symptoms because he’s always well-prepared and that helps.”
UFC 249 fighters like Werdum have signed a waiver that prevents them from criticizing the promotion’s COVID-19 protocols.
The UFC has two more scheduled events in Jacksonville, for May 13th and May 16th.