01 Jan UFC aims to administer around 1,200 coronavirus tests for three shows in Jacksonville
The UFC will be conducting extensive coronavirus testing for athletes and personnel attending the three shows scheduled in Jacksonville, Fla. on May 9, May 13 and May 16.
UFC COO Lawrence Epstein revealed in an interview with Sports Business Daily on Wednesday that the promotion will administer around 1,200 tests — 600+ antigen tests and 600+ antibody tests — for the three events.
“In the early days of this epidemic, the testing capacity had to be focused exclusively on first responders, healthcare works and people who were sick,” Epstein said. “Now with testing capacity expanding, many of these tests that organizations like ours are getting access don’t impact that testing.”
In addition to the testing being done on site, the UFC also submitted a 25-page outline to the Florida State Boxing Commission in regards to health and safety measures being taken for the upcoming shows. The UFC also submitted the same brief to the state of Nevada in hopes that they can eventually return to Las Vegas to promote cards as their APEX facility.
As of now, the state of Nevada has banned all combat sports events.
At the three events in Florida, the UFC will staff the show with approximately half the usual crew that would work a card. Typically around 300 people would work a UFC event and that number will be cut down to around 150 for these shows.
Social distancing will also be a priority at the cards in Florida.
The three-man commentary team of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier will all be seated at separate tables surrounding the octagon rather than sitting together. There will also be no post-fight interviews conducted inside the cage.
As previously announced, the UFC will be conducting a virtual media day with fighters on Thursday as they answer questions through a webcam program rather than in person interviews. The post-fight press conference will allow media to attend but it will look similar to the briefings held by President Donald Trump where reporters will be required to sit at least six-feet apart in the room. Fighters will also be answering questions via webcam much like the virtual media day for reporters unable to attend the card in Florida.
Fighters have already started posting videos of medical staff conducting the tests for COVID-19 as their teams arrive in Jacksonville for the event. Anyone staying at the UFC 249 host hotel will also undergo similar testing, which includes the coaches and corner men working with the fighters at the event.
Fight week welcome wagon! Covid 19/coronavirus testing & antibody blood test… I think I enjoyed Algebra tests more lol #UFC249 pic.twitter.com/aLizhDbosW
— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) May 6, 2020
The UFC will be the first major sporting event to take place in the United States since lockdown orders were issued across the country with leagues such as the NBA and NHL completely suspending play for the season.
“We’ve thought this through with health and safety being our No. 1 priority,” Epstein said. “We put together a plan that we think makes a lot of sense.”