UFC Reveals COVID-19 Testing Plans For UFC 249

A few days ago, the UFC sent out a blueprint on how the promotion will be preparing fighters for their upcoming fights at UFC 249 and beyond. Included in the email: the idea of individual workout rooms and limitations of people in the hotel and event. What wasn’t mentioned, however, was how the fighters would be tested for the coronavirus.

Now, things are starting to get a little clearer.

The UFC Performance Institute sent out an email to fighters, via MMA Junkie, regarding testing protocols for fight week. Conducted by the UFC’s medical team, there will be several procedures in place to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

“Upon completion of the UFC Medical Team administered COVID-19 test, the UFCPI Performance Dietitian will conduct a fight week screen that includes but isn’t limited to: weight, nutritional status, food allergies or intolerances and weight cut tactics,” the email stated.

It is still unclear how many times fighters will be tested, especially before and after a fight. It is also unknown the specifics on how long the tests will take to provide proper results. ESPN, however, was able to confirm that athletes will undergo two tests: the diagnostic swab coronavirus test and the antibody test. During testing and treatment, fighters will be required to wear masks and gloves. Before the appointment, however, they will need to sanitize and their temperature will be taken.

Throughout this time, social distancing will be a major requirement. Meal staff members (via Trifecta) will trade in meals for weight-tracking data provided by the fighters from their rooms. It is unknown how that will play a factor in the individual training rooms, where the fighter and their corner will be in. There will be scheduled weigh-ins, with stations being sanitized each time.

As a normal procedure, USADA will be on hand at the fight venue to perform tests.

“As we’ve stated, testing at UFC events is an essential part of a fair fight,” USADA Director of Communications Adam Woullard stated to ESPN. “We will have doping control officers at UFC 249, and will do everything in our power to conduct testing at future events, of course taking appropriate precautions to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.”

UFC 249 takes place this weekend, May 9, inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The Sunshine State is one of the only locations allowing combat sports to take place, as the UFC is considered an “essential business” by its Governor.

Here is the full card for UFC 249:

  • Tony Ferguson v. Justin Gaethje – Interim UFC Lightweight Title
  • Henry Cejudo (c) v. Dominick Cruz – UFC Bantamweight Title
  • Francis Ngannou v. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
  • Calvin Kattar v. Jeremy Stephens
  • Greg Hardy v. Yorgan De Castro
  • Donald Cerrone v. Anthony Pettis
  • Aleksei Oleinik v. Fabricio Werdum
  • Carla Esparza v. Michelle Waterson
  • Ronaldo Souza v. Uriah Hall
  • Niko Price v. Vicente Luque
  • Bryce Mitchell v. Charles Rosa
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