Much of the world is in agreement that COVID-19, a virus that has killed over 5 million people, is real and that vaccinations, mask-wearing, hand hygiene, and physical distancing are vital for slowing down and eventually stopping that death count. However, the world of MMA is different.
UFC President Dana White and many UFC fighters are on record with their skepticism over the severity of COVID-19 and the efficacy of measures developed by the world’s leading medical health experts to combat it. White et al seem especially resistant to the idea of vaccines.
White has recently stated that the UFC will not “force” fighters to be vaccinated. He said this to TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter about the matter.
“I would never tell another human being what to do with their body. If you want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you. That’s your choice. You’re never gonna hear me say, I’m gonna force people to get vaccinated. Never gonna happen. I think a lot of people are doing that. They’re telling you in New York, you can’t go into a restaurant or a gym unless you’re vaccinated and can prove it and things like that. Some people are getting fired if they don’t get vaccinated. That’s not gonna happen here. If you wanna get vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you don’t, that’s your decision, your body.”
One of White’s fighters, Sean O’Malley, recently saluted his boss for this stance.
“It’s such a weird thing. I think Dana just came out and said, ‘It’s fucking America. We’re a free country. My athletes don’t have to get vaccinated,” said O’Malley on his podcast (ht sportskeeda). “That’s so cool... we’re so lucky.”
O’Malley is currently preparing to face Raulian Paiva at UFC 269 on December 11.
O’Malley’s home state of Montana reported 7,708 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday (per 8KPAX). On that day the state also reported 14 new deaths from the virus, raising the state’s total deaths to 2,451.
According to a Healthline report on November 9, Montana has the third highest daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.
Montana has a vaccination rate, among eligible residents, of 55%.
Vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. Individuals who have been fully vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of their COVID-19 infection. Fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to spread COVID-19 to other people, including those who are most likely to die from the disease, such as those who are elderly, immunocompromised and/or are unable to be vaccinated due to underlying medical conditions.