clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Many health and safety questions remain unanswered for UFC 249

New, comments

Information has leaked about safety for the three UFC Jacksonville events, but more details are needed.

The UFC’s healthy and safety plan for the three upcoming events in Jacksonville, Florida is leaking out. None of that information is coming directly from the UFC, and that’s an enormous concern that needs to be talked about as much as possible, but at least fans and media are receiving some information.

On Monday, MMA Fighting obtained an email from the UFC Performance Institute that detailed the fight-week protocols for UFC 249. One of the most important facts gleaned from an unnamed source is that the UFC will test for COVID-19 via swab and antibody tests and that the results are expected back before the event takes place.

However, there is an ominous sounding addendum attached to the bottom of the email:

“UFC reserves the right, in its discretion, to withdraw, modify or otherwise change any of the services referred to above. Additionally, all policies and procedures, including all medical procedures, are subject to change or modification by UFC at any time, and are subject to all other policies and procedures that UFC may implement. UFC makes no representations or warranties or other promises with respect to the availability of any of the services referred to herein or the effectiveness thereof.”

Bloody Elbow contacted the office of Jacksonville’s mayor, Lenny Curry for more details. Brian Hughes, chief administrative officer for Jacksonville responded to Bloody Elbow’s questions via email.

The city’s fire marshal will be present at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena to ensure the UFC does not exceed the acceptable number of people inside the arena at any one time. Hughes wrote, “The exact number is still uncertain but it will be the fewest number necessary to produce the event. Also, because the arena has many segmented spaces throughout, no one enclosed space with ever exceed occupancy consistent with health and safety guidelines.”

As for proper safety protocols, including social distancing, Hughes wrote, “First and foremost, UFC presented state regulators with a well thought out plan and they are aware of our guidance through local executive orders. Based on our discussions and the capacity to have code and safety enforcement at the events, we are confident the events will protect the athletes, management and production staff on site.”

When it comes to COVID-19 testing of everyone inside the building, Hughes wrote, “Everyone in the building will have been through a testing regime based on the UFC’s plan.”

While some details about the health and safety plan for the three Jacksonville events, scheduled for May 9, 13 and 16 are now known, other important particulars remain up in the air such as:

  • Will everyone associated with the events be tested for COVID 19? That includes all corners, everyone who is working for the UFC for the event, the hotel staff, transportation providers, caterers, athletic commission members, media members and more. If these individuals will be tested will they be tested with the same robustness of the UFC fighters?
  • What is the protocol if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
  • What is the infection control protocol for the octagon between fights and between events?
  • Will everyone associated with the event be forced/asked to quarantine for two weeks after the event? If so, will that be in Jacksonville or at their homes? If no quarantine procedure is in place, why?
  • Will fighters and teams be allowed to leave the hotel or arena on their own? If so, what safety protocols are in place for their return?
  • Will teams be able to intermingle inside the hotel and arena?
  • If MMA media is on site, including photographers, what is the safety protocol for those individuals?
  • Finally, will the UFC itself ever speak openly and honestly about its safety and health plan for the Jacksonville events and future UFC fight cards?

The information the MMA world has received is a good start, but there are still many unanswered questions surrounding these events. The UFC and the Florida boxing commission need to be more transparent when it comes to health and safety for these events during a global pandemic.