Jacare Souza Out of UFC 249 Fight vs. Uriah Hall After Positive COVID-19 Test

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 9, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 08: (L-R) Opponents Uriah Hall of Jamaica and Jacare Souza of Brazil face off during the UFC 249 official weigh-in on May 08, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Mike Roach/Getty Images

A scheduled middleweight bout between Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Uriah Hall for UFC 249 on Saturday has been called off after Souza tested positive for COVID-19, per ESPN:

"Souza arrived in Jacksonville on Wednesday and informed UFC officials that a family member had tested positive. Souza was asymptomatic, but was isolated and tested, and Friday the test came back positive.

"The UFC has conferred with Florida athletic officials, who said the fights can go on as scheduled because the system worked in Souza's case."

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith first broke the news after speaking with UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell

Per ESPN's Ariel Helwani, Souza's team has no comment.

Helwani later reported that two of Souza's cornermen also had COVID-19. He also relayed comments from UFC, who said the three men "will be self-isolating off premises, where UFC's medical team will monitor their conditions remotely and will provide assistance with any necessary treatment."

UFC 249 will now feature 11 fights, including a lightweight bout for an interim title between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje and a bantamweight title matchup featuring champion Henry Cejudo and challenger Dominick Cruz.

Every other fighter that is or was scheduled to fight, including Hall, tested negative per Helwani.

Souza and Hall notably did a socially distanced staredown in Jacksonville, Florida, where UFC 249 will be held without fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That wasn't the norm for other fighters, with Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Anthony Pettis taking part in a routine staredown.

UFC's last event occurred in Brasília, Brazil, on March 14 without fans in attendance. However, the UFC was soon forced to cancel five events, including four Fight Nights and one UFC on ESPN show.

UFC 249 was originally scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn, New York, before being postponed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UFC then moved the event to Tachi Palace Casino Resort in California, but pressure from state government and Disney and ESPN officials forced UFC 249 to be moved once again.

Now, UFC 249 will be held in Jacksonville at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, and all signs still point to it being held despite Souza's test.

"Just spoke with a FL state commission official who said he is still very comfortable with UFC 249 proceeding despite the positive test," Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweeted. "Said Jacare disclosed a recent contact with an infected relative and was isolated upon his arrival until results came back. 'The system worked.'"

As for why the event can be held in Florida with much of the country still shut down, A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics explained:

"An executive order that wrestling company WWE used as a justification for an Orlando taping this month also lays the groundwork for UFC.

"It deems essential 'employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience—including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.'"

The WWE has been holding its events at its Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, without fans.

Now, the UFC will join the party Saturday. Preliminary matches are set to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, with the five-fight main card to follow.