Report: UFC Has Stricter COVID-19 Protocols for UFC on ESPN 9 Card in Las Vegas

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, UFC President Dana White speaks at a news conference in New York. UFC 249 has been canceled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic. After defiantly vowing for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights, White announced the decision to cease competition Thursday, April 9, on ESPN, the UFC's broadcast partner. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The UFC is enforcing stricter COVID-19 testing and social distancing guidelines for its fighters ahead of Saturday's Fight Night event in Las Vegas.

According to a memo obtained by MMA Junkie's Nolan King, the UFC will require fighters and their corners to take two tests ahead of the bout, one upon their arrival at the hotel and another after Friday's weigh-in. They will also be expected to follow more stringent social distancing guidelines, including not leaving their hotel or having physical contact with anyone outside their camp.

"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 said of expectations of fighters after their Friday test.

Fighters were not required to remain in self-isolation after their tests in previous UFC events held in Jacksonville, Florida. These more stringent requirements may have been enacted to ensure the Nevada State Athletic Commission would approve the resumption of combat sports ahead of Saturday's event.

The commission has a meeting scheduled for May 27, where they're expected to approve the UFC's Fight Night event. Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns are set to headline the event, which will be the UFC's fourth in May.

Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of UFC 249, resulting in the cancellation of his scheduled bout with Uriah Hall. Souza is the only fighter to test positive for the coronavirus through the first three cards.

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