Now that the UFC will be heading out of the United States for international fights, the promotion knew it would have to change its health and safety procedures. In the wake of the coronavirus, the UFC will be making the entire process a team effort.
MMA Fighting was the first to receive the pre-flight protocols before the UFC heads to “Fight Island” on July 11 for UFC 251. “Fight Island” is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Instead of just the fighters getting tested, the coaches and cornermen of the fighters must also get tested.
Fighters in the United States will be sent to Las Vegas to get tested for COVID-19 before leaving for the UAE. Those in Brazil will have to fly to Sao Paulo and quarantine for two days before leaving the country. Other fighters from various backgrounds will go to a primary location assigned to them. According to MMA Junkie, that will be London or Moskow. Those not in the area must take commercial flights to their key landing spots. The same procedures for the next few events throughout July will be implemented.
ESPN ended up reporting that everyone will be tested two more times before quarantining, at least until the test results come back. A third test (fourth overall) will be implemented before fight night. After all of the major fights, one final test will be administered, a new rule the UFC hasn’t done before.
All testing and quarantine periods will range from 24-48-hour intervals. Just like with Top Rank Boxing in Las Vegas, the UFC will be inside their own “Bubble”, which will seclude them from the outside world.
When the UFC first held events in Florida, they abided by specific guidelines when it came to testing. Before the Nevada Athletic Commission approved MMA and boxing in the state, the UFC tweaked its guidelines to adhere to the commission’s rules. As of now, there haven’t been any major cases following Ronaldo Souza being forced off of UFC 249 after testing positive.
Other events taking place after UFC 251 will be on July 15, July 18, and July 25.
UFC 251 will have a main event featuring Kamaru Usman defending the UFC Welterweight Title against Gilbert Burns. Alexander Volkanovski will defend the UFC Featherweight Championship in the co-main event against the man he beat for the title in Max Holloway. Finally, Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will fight to determine the new UFC Bantamweight Champion.