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Ahead of UFC 249, ringside physicians revise recommendation to postpone combat sports

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The Association of Ringside Physicians were bullish on the cancellation of events back in early April. But, less than a month later, they’re giving combat sports the go ahead—providing organizers and commissions exercise due caution.

When the UFC returns to putting on events next week, it looks like they’ll do so without objectively ignoring the recommendations of the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP). Back in early April, the organization – which provides training and certification for doctors and other medical personnel in combat sports – recommended the postponing of “all combat sporting events” until “further notice.”

However, with UFC 249 on the horizon next Saturday, it looks like “further notice” has arrived. In a recent release to the press, the ARP has revised their recommendation on combat sporting events somewhat. ESPN first published the statement, in which the organization said that while the risk of COVID-19 transmission couldn’t be entirely eliminated, they felt it could be mitigated.

“Although it is impossible to eliminate all risk of COVID19, precautions can be made to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Many athletic commissions, organizations and promotions are developing new guidelines to limit exposure to all involved at events, including athletes, their teams, commission personnel and support staff.

“Combat sports event procedures regarding COVID19 precautions should be actively developed, regularly reviewed and modified based on the evolving knowledge and scientific evidence put forth by public health authorities. These guidelines should also involve local and regional public health officials as well as infectious disease experts and epidemiologists.”

That statement falls short of actually encouraging, or even necessarily embracing, a return to an active combat sports schedule. But, it also clearly makes room for organizations like the UFC, who have the resources to meet any enhanced health and safety guidelines that might be put forth by commissions they operate under, in order to start putting on events again.

With states around the country searching for ways to restart their economies in the coming months, this seems like exactly the kind of message they’re looking for to give backbone to the easing of restrictions on events. And it’s another move that makes it that much more likely the UFC will be able to continue with their 2020 calendar as planned.

UFC 249 is set to take place on Saturday, May 9th, in Jacksonville, FL. The PPV event is expected to be followed quickly by Fight Night cards on May 13th & 16th. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes in the coming days.