On Thursday, middleweight Ian Heinisch was taken off his scheduled prelim middleweight fight against Gerald Meerschaert. This development came after one of Heinisch’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.
That same evening, Heinisch was brought back on because the coach in question rendered a negative. It was the third false-positive case after Claudia Gaedelha and one of Dan Ige’s cornermen during the third and final fight card in Jacksonville, Florida last May 16.
During the post-fight scrum, Heinisch revealed that his cornerman was also in contact with other fighters. For a brief moment, he felt the entire card was in jeopardy.
“It was wild. First, they were blowing up my phone, ‘Hey, your cornermen tested positive,’” he told reporters. “They came and got him, and then we sat down and we were like, ‘How did this happen?’ We realized, he was around all the other people, too, a bunch of other fighters. So, the whole card was probably gonna flop.
“And we’re like, ‘there’s no way he tested positive.’ We found out it was an inconclusive test, we got him retested, and the UFC did a great job, we found him to be negative, and I had to turn my phone off for, like, five hours because it leaked on the internet and everyone was blowing me up that my fight was pulled,” he continued.
“So I just had to stay focused. I was in the middle of cutting weight. I had to keep cutting weight, I wanted to eat. But, I just stayed focused.”
In another conversation with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Heinisch once again tipped his hat off to the UFC for how the situation was handled.
“The UFC dealt with it very well,” he said. “I’m just so grateful to be back on [this] card.
“It was one of the longest five hours of my life,” he added. “I couldn’t watch a movie. I just felt so anxious. Coach was like, let’s go hit some pads and listen to some reggae and lay on the mats. We just did that.”
Heinisch scored a first-round TKO win over Meerschaert, breaking a two-fight skid. He improves to a record of 14-3 (with seven wins by stoppage).