The UFC is scheduled to return tonight with UFC 249 on ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN+ pay-per-view, and UFC Fight Pass.
UFC 249 is scheduled to be headlined tonight by a championship doubleheader to close the show.
UFC 249 is scheduled to be the sport of MMA’s return tonight, after an eight-week hiatus of live UFC events due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
But last night, the focus of conversation shifted from the championship doubleheader to close the event to a positive test for COVID-19 from one of the fighters.
Late Friday night, ESPN reported that Jacare Souza (26-8), who, like all other fighters booked to appear tonight in UFC 249, was given a test for COVID-19, tested positive for the virus.
Souza arrived in Jacksonville earlier in the week and upon his arrival, informed the promotion that members of his family might have been stricken with COVID-19 and previously showed no symptoms before this subsequent positive test.
As a result, his scheduled Middleweight undercard fight between Uriah Hall (15-9) was canceled for tonight.
Upon Souza informing the UFC of potential COVID-19 cases in his family, he was put into isolation straightaway.
In addition, as of midnight Saturday, the UFC announced that two members of Souza’s corner also have tested positive for COVID-19.
Jacare Souza had been spotted with a facemask and protective gloves at the official weigh-in on Friday morning.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the foremost authority on the sport of mixed martial arts, reported on Twitter on Friday night that the other fighters booked on this evening’s card tested negative for the virus.
The other 23 fighters on the UFC 249 card tested negative for COVID-19, per sources.
Jacare has left the hotel, per sources.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 9, 2020
He later reiterated this point during a live hit on the late edition of SportsCenter last evening.
As of late last evening, the UFC, after consulting with the Florida Boxing Commission, which will oversee tonight’s UFC card, as well as the shows on Wednesday and next Saturday, moved to hold the new UFC 249 as scheduled this evening, on the grounds that it was pleased with how the system worked in regards to Souza.
So, despite the cancelation of the Souza vs. Hall contest, UFC 249 is, as of late Friday night, still scheduled to go on later tonight.
But should it?
First off, our thoughts are with Jacare Souza at this time and we hope for a speedy recovery.
As I mentioned earlier this week, if any fighters on these UFC Jacksonville cards would happen to test positive for COVID-19 and it would happen to be traced directly back to these shows, the UFC would immediately shut down indefinitely.
The UFC should be commended for acting quickly to isolate Jacare Souza—and this positive case of COVID-19 wasn’t a direct result of having an event.
It remains to be seen as of early Saturday morning if the UFC will reverse course and cancel UFC 249 for tonight—and UFC President Dana White has said that the next three UFC shows will go ahead as scheduled.
In the end, it’s a matter of opinion.
What’s your opinion on this?
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