The UFC returned to live action for the first time in nearly two months with UFC 249 on Saturday. UFC took safety measures ahead of the fight, testing all fighters and teams ahead of the event for COVID-19.
Unfortunately, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19, canceling his scheduled fight with Uriah Hall. Despite the failed test, UFC President Dana White was thrilled with how things were handled leading up to the event.
"The bottom line is, the system worked," said Dana during the UFC 249 post-fight press conference. "What you don't want to do is find out two days after the fight that he tested positive. The system that we put in place worked. Without sounding like a jackass, we're very good at what we do. The way this week went, we'll get better. We'll be better by Wednesday and then get better by Saturday. The longer this goes, the better the testing technology will get and the faster it'll get. We'll prove by next Saturday that professional sports can come back safely. We can share what we've learned here, doing three events, with other sports leagues, who are reaching out to us and asking. Not just for professional sports but sending people back to work and lots of other things in life."
UFC is set to run two more events in the coming week with shows on May 13 and 16.
White commented that President Donald Trump, who appeared in a video before UFC 249 started, had been communicating with him about re-opening sports, saying sports returning is a top priority for President Trump.
When asked specifically about Souza's failed test, Dana said, "We kept him away from people and now we know that he has it. Now we can help him too. I don't know what he's going to need medically. When we're testing our employees and fighters, we'll find out who has it and we can help them. We want everybody to be negative, but this week we're going to do 11,000 tests. Somebody is going to be positive."
White was also asked about Fabricio Werdum's video which featured him interacting with Souza prior to the fight. White noted that the optics in the video looked back, but Souza was wearing his face mask and gloves and that the UFC can take the necessary steps, but fighters have to be smart as well.
When asked if Souza and Hall would be paid, White commented, "Yeah, we'll get them figured out."
White also praised the state of Florida and the Florida Athletic Commission for how being easy to work with in running the event.
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