The UFC returned to action last night with UFC 249, which was headlined by Justin Gaethje defeating Tony Ferguson by fifth round TKO to become the UFC Interim Lightweight Champion.
A total of twenty two fighters competed on last nights card and according to a report from Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, all of those fighters had to sign an agreement stating that they would not criticize the UFC’s health and safety protocols for the event, which was run during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s called an anti-disparagement clause and if I know what that is, that scumbag (Espinoza) is a lawyer and you would think he should know what that is,” White said.
What White is referring to with Stephen Espinoza is a tweet that Espinoza sent out earlier in the day:
It's because they were required to sign a document which says that they can lose their whole purse and bonuses if they say anything negative about the COVID protocols. https://t.co/97v9ZduOxF— Stephen Espinoza (@StephenEspinoza) May 9, 2020
“If a fighter says something that isn’t true — if he says we didn’t test anyone for this — that would [violate the agreement],” White said. “But if he said something that was true, his opinion, then that is different.”
Fighters who disparage the UFC’s safety and health protocols could face the following penalty, according to the agreement:
“If the Participant is a Fighter, the Participant hereby acknowledges and agrees that in the event that the Participant breaches this Paragraph 7, the Company may revoke all or any part of any prize monies or awards won by the Participant in connection with the Activities, including, but not limited to, purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties.”
There was some controversy before UFC 249, as Ronaldo Souza, who was scheduled to fight Uriah Hall on the preliminary card, was pulled from the event after testing positive for the coronavirus, along with two of his cornermen.
It should also be pointed out that the aforementioned agreement says that all fighters competing at UFC 249 assumed the risk of catching the coronavirus or coming in contact with someone/something that has the virus:
“The Participant fully understands and agrees that the Participant’s preparation for, travel for, lodging, attendance at, contact with and consumption or use of, food, beverages and other consumables at, participation and appearance in and/or provision of services or personnel for the Activities (collectively, the “Covered Matters”) may lead to exposure to COVID-19 and that contraction of COVID-19 may result in severe and permanent damage to the health of the Participant and/or others, including, but not limited to, death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses, which may or may not be covered by insurance, cleaning expenses, mandatory self-quarantine, loss of licenses and similar approvals by any regulatory or self-regulatory body to which the Participant or any of the Releasing Parties (as defined below) is subject, investigation and/or prosecution by civil, criminal or other regulatory authorities and other harms and lost opportunities, whether economic, reputational or otherwise (collectively, the “Harms”).
Everybody else who competed at UFC 249, outside of Souza, tested negative for the coronavirus.