The UFC will introduce a more stringent series of coronavirus tests for fighters and their coaches ahead of upcoming fight cards in their multi-million-dollar UFC Apex facility at the organization’s Las Vegas HQ.
The UFC has held three events since emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, all of which occurred in the same venue in Jacksonville, Florida.
One fighter, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, was found to have contracted the virus in testing conducted during fight week ahead of UFC 249, though the fighter was present for the weigh-ins on the eve of the event where he came in close physical proximity to several other athletes and UFC president Dana White.
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Despite insisting that their testing regime was sufficient at the time, a report from MMA Junkie has shown that the company will introduce an improved battery of tests ahead of the return to Las Vegas.
Each fighter to compete at cards in the Apex arena will face two mandatory COVID-19 antigen oropharyngeal swab tests before competing and when arriving at the fighter hotel, at which point each fighter and coach who undergoes the test will face a period of self-isolation until the results of their tests are available.
Fighters “should not leave the Athlete Hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result,” according to a memo issued to fighters.
If the test results are negative, fighters are invited to conduct their regular fight week activities. Upon a negative test, they are told to remain in their room until contacted by a UFC medical staff.
A second test takes place after the weigh-ins, after which fighters must self-isolate in their hotel rooms until it is time to be transported to the location of the fight.
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“During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the Athlete Hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” the memo states. “You also should not have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp.“
The first event inside the UFC Apex facility takes place this weekend with a card headlined by former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who takes on surging Brazilian contender Gilbert Burns.