Recent UFC cards have been ravaged by cancellations due to multiple COVID-19 positives, with several fighters and even staff contracting the virus. Just last weekend’s event was cut down to only seven fights because of the coronavirus, with Brian Kelleher alone having three last minute opponent changes.
Dana White again downplayed the effect of COVID-19, when speaking to the media. In an effort to defend the recent string of positives from his organization, the UFC President doled out an accusation against the NBA and MLB.
“Look at the history here,” White told the assembled media. “Look at what we’ve done, look at how it’s all worked out. One of the things that we’re not doing that the other sports are doing is there’s people that keep testing positive, right? Positive, positive, positive, but they have no symptoms and they’re not contagious. They’re letting those guys play if it’s in the NBA or Major League Baseball. We’re not. I mean that’s the difference.
“And, we just had a situation last week where they tested negative, negative, then tested positive, so this thing is just f—king wacky, and you do the best you can. We’re doing everything the right way, it’s just, who knows with this thing?”
White’s statement is just demonstrably false.
The NBA for instance, has had zero positives for months now in their bubble set up in Orlando, Florida. The organization only had a few positives during the initial arrival period when the bubble was first set up, but has been running without a hitch ever since.
Their policy also explicitly forbids anyone who tests positive from competing. Based on their health and safety protocols, if a player tests positive but is asymptomatic, they will still be forced to isolate. Unlike what White claims, they will definitely not be allowed to play. Only until they can test negative twice, with tests more than 24 hours apart, can they be allowed to leave quarantine and join their teammates.
“Nobody’s got this whole thing figured out yet, but we’ve been solid. Think about me, I’m in there, I shake their hands, I do all these other stuff, and I haven’t had COVID,” he said.
“I will shake people’s hands until the day I die.”
In other sports, every single player on the active roster will be housed in their bubble, with pretty much no one allowed to leave for the duration of their season (and playoffs, if they advance).
The way combat sports are structured makes it inherently harder to avoid positive tests, as participants in the bubble change every week. Fighters have to complete training camp from various gyms across the already COVID-riddled country before hand, and as one fighter notes, it’s “damn near impossible” to social distance during fight prep.
While it hasn’t been perfect, the UFC has done a great job to still constantly put on shows, and White didn’t really have to compare it to other sports and bring up accusations that don’t seem to have much basis in reality.