UFC 249 remains scheduled for Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., despite one of the fighters on the card testing positive for the coronavirus.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza received the result Friday after telling UFC officials on Wednesday a family member had tested positive, ESPN reported. Souza was asymptomatic. He was pulled from his middleweight fight vs. Uriah Hall, and the UFC announced late Friday that the bout had been taken off the card.
The UFC also announced that two of the people who work Souza's corner tested positive, but the other fighters on the card (23 total) all tested negative.
Statement from the UFC on Jacare and two of his cornermen testing positive for COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/bK0OcCaXEG— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) May 9, 2020
UFC officials decided to continue with the card after conferring with Florida athletic officials, according to ESPN.
Souza and Hall wore personal protective equipment during a socially distant staredown Friday morning.
If Jacare wasn’t wearing gloves and a mask right here this whole event would probably be off pic.twitter.com/1Ljzl7pG30— Baked Max Holloway (@BakedHolloway) May 9, 2020
The fact the event is still on is significant not just from a public health standpoint but also from a UFC business standpoint. The UFC has three fight cards scheduled in an eight-day span, beginning with Saturday's event, to make up postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All three events are set to take place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN that the positive tests will not affect that schedule.
"We administered 1,200 tests this week, on 300 people," White told ESPN. "It's not unexpected one person would test positive. The system works. And what's good about this, is now we know Jacare tested positive, he's doing what he needs to do and we're in a position to help him if he needs it."