Jacare Souza was pulled out of UFC 249 after he and his two coaches tested positive for COVID-19. Prior to the unfortunate development, the BJJ world champion already expressed concerns about fighting during this pandemic.
Even prior to the original schedule for UFC 249 last April, Jacare already noted how he was “scared” and had reservations about accepting a bout. The thing that changed his mind and made him risk wanting to train and fight, was being desperate for a paycheck and worried he would lose his home without it.
“I’m scared, that’s normal. Everyone’s scared,” Jacare told MMA Fighting last month. “We try to keep everyone protected, but I keep thinking about one thing: if I can’t pay my house’s mortgage, if I can’t pay my bills, I’m going to lose my house. If I go out to the streets, that’s when it gets complicated, that’s when they really won’t be protected. I have to take care of my family one way or the other, and I believe… I know the UFC will keep me protected.”
Jacare also took precautions of his own during training camp, such as building a home gym (and using his wife’s crossfit equipment) and making teammates Josuel Distak and Rafael Lima move into his house. He also mentioned how he cut down on training partners, but Alan Patrick and Rodolfo Vieira still came over to train in his house in Orlando.
Despite those measures, at least three of them have still tested positive, along with Jacare’s family members as well. We don’t know how or when they got infected, but countless more could have been exposed in their area — and in the Jacksonville hotel — from all of this.
As the UFC tells it, Jacare immediately disclosed that a family member was showing symptoms upon arrival, but he still broke quarantine hoping to still be able to compete and get paid. The UFC also allowed him to cut weight and continue with UFC activities, while also being seen mingling with other camps in the hotel.
There seems to be a lot of risk taken during this entire situation, with financial motives behind a lot of those decisions. At the end of the day, Jacare still wasn’t able to fight, and there’s no word just yet how much (or if any) of his agreed purse he will be paid by the UFC.