For now, next Saturday’s UFC flyweight title bout is still intact.
Scheduled to rematch Joseph Benavidez on July 18th in Abu Dhabi, Deiveson Figueiredo’s hopes of becoming champion were put in jeopardy after he tested positive for COVID-19. Figueiredo was set to fly out to Yas Island when the positive test occurred, but another test has come back negative, per his manager Wallid Ismail.
Thanks @ufc For the great work to clarified the misunderstand https://t.co/od4Zbd3HGr— Wallid Ismail (@WallidJfc) July 12, 2020
The original report said that Figueiredo had the coronavirus two months ago and that this might have been a false positive. MMA Fighting has the explanation on what could’ve caused that positive.
There are multiple types of COVID-19 tests including an antibody test, which determines whether a person has previously been infected with the coronavirus. Figueiredo admitted he had the disease, so that could explain a positive result if he did indeed take an antibody test.
There are two additional types of COVID-19 tests — PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which searches for the genetic material of the coronavirus and antigen, which looks for the active infection. It’s unknown which test Figueiredo took and failed before being tested again with negative results.
Of course this doesn’t mean it’s all systems go. Figueiredo (along with all other fighters) will undergo several more COVID-19 tests before clearance to actually compete. In addition to having negative COVID-19 results, Figueiredo will also have to actually make weight this time, as his failure to do so in his first matchup with Benavidez rendered him ineligible to win the title back in February.
Should something happen to either Figueiredo or Benavidez, Dana White confirmed at Saturday night’s UFC 251 post-fight press conference that Alexandre Pantoja will serve as the backup for the main event. Pantoja is currently scheduled to fight Askar Askarov on the main card.