The news that everyone feared when UFC 249 was announced for May 9th has happened – a fighter has tested positive for coronavirus less than 24 hours before the event is scheduled to take place in Jacksonville, Florida, yet as things stand the show will go on.
The fighter in question is Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, who had caught people’s attention during his post-weigh-in staredown with Uriah Hall yesterday for wearing not only a mask but also rubber gloves while choosing to stand far apart from his opponent, though he did give Dana White an ill-advised fist bump.
According to ESPN, ‘Jacare’ had arrived at the fighter hotel on Wednesday and told the UFC that a family member had coronavirus, but he himself was showing no symptoms.
Souza was tested for the virus and told to self-isolate as much as possible until the results came back yesterday, which confirmed that he does have Covid-19. He appears to be asymptomatic, but of course it goes without saying that his fight with Hall has now been cancelled.
It should be noted that footage has since been uncovered (and deleted) showing an unmasked Fabricio Werdum sharing a laugh and a joke right next to the masked, gloved Souza, while several other people stood relatively close by, which brings into question how strictly his self-isolation was adhered to since his arrival at the hotel.
Needless to say this all leaves a great deal of concern about the chances of other fighters potentially having caught coronavirus, and it’s the kind of situation in which the normal protocol would be for anyone who has come into contact with someone who has covid-19 to self-isolate for the next two weeks.
However, the Florida State Athletic Commission has given the UFC the greenlight to proceed with the event, which will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
Update: It has also emerged that both of Jacare’s cornermen have also tested positive for covid-19. All three have been taken from the hotel they were staying in and will now self-isolate under the supervision of UFC medical staff.