The days leading up to the UFC’s most recent Apex event – headlined by the bantamweight fight between Frankie Edgar and Pedro Munhoz – were something of a nightmare when it came to finalizing Saturday night’s fight card lineup. While bouts like Angela Hill vs. Michelle Waterson and Yoel Romero vs. Uriah Hall, and Ovince St. Preux vs. Shamil Gamzatov were all scratched well in advance, by the time the UFC went live on August 22nd, eleven different bookings had been scrapped.
In the case of at least two fighters – newcomer Mark Striegl, and longtime veteran Ovince St. Preux – the reasons behind their exits from the card were positive tests for COVID-19. The danger of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic wasn’t just limited to the athletes, however, as president Dana White made clear during the post-fight press conference. There the UFC boss announced that seven employees had been removed from the event as well.
“Yeah, no, this was probably the – he was just asking about OSP – this has probably been the craziest week we’ve had since this whole thing started,” White said, when asked about fighters staying in prolonged camps to ‘be ready’ for a potential UFC call up. “And it wasn’t just—I have to commend the production team tonight. We lost, like, seven production people too. It’s been a crazy week for us, and everybody delivered. And these fighters keep stepping up, the production team stepped up tonight, these are crazy times.
“It’s insanity,” White continued. “And the matchmakers—the matchmakers are making fights the day of the weigh-ins. Crazy.”
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole followed up with the UFC after White’s comment, for clarification.
ONE production team member tested positive. The other six were around him and kept out of tonight's fight for precautionary reasons. Just wanted to update that https://t.co/7jHcQpCGsJ— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) August 23, 2020
Hopefully the UFC’s coronavirus protocols continue to stay sharp for the months ahead, and the UFC doesn’t suffer too many more weeks like this one. With events currently planned for every weekend going forward through November, the promotion could easily find itself in a dire situation if staff start getting sick around the Apex facility.