One note before we begin today pertaining to the UFC’s Bantamweight division:
Henry Cejudo (16-2), who retired after his co-main event victory against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in Jacksonville on May 9 for the promotion’s Bantamweight championship is officially, as of Sunday, no longer the promotion champion.
With Cejudo’s retirement, this title is now officially vacant.
Onward to today’s topic.
After a week off this past weekend, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is poised to return this Saturday night on ESPN and ESPN+ with UFC on ESPN 9.
This event, along with UFC 250 on the night of June 6, will take place without fans present at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The UFC Apex booking is expected to be made official in a Wednesday virtual meeting between members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
NSAC is expected to lift its ban on combat sports, which has been in effect since March 14.
Earlier in May, the UFC hosted three live events in an eight-day span in Jacksonville at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena with all athletes undergoing swab and antibody testing for the coronavirus.
A brief scare:
Following the official weigh-ins for the rescheduled UFC 249 the day prior to the May 9 event, Jacare Souza’s (26-8) coronavirus test came back positive.
Two of Souza’s cornermen also tested positive for the virus, and as a result of these positive tests, Souza withdrew from the event.
He was to have fought Uriah Hall (15-9) in a Middleweight fight during the prelims the next night.
USA Today’s MMA Junkie acquired a Sunday memo regarding updated COVID-19 testing protocol ahead of this weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns.
Swab tests are part of this new protocol, as they were in Jacksonville.
The UFC has, however, updates its social distancing policy with the new protocol, including the closure of the UFC Performance Institute.
MMA Junkie’s Nolan King writes:
“Different than the old policy, however, a more concrete definition is given for social distancing expectations. Fighters are instructed not to leave the hotel or have any contact with anyone outside of their designated team.”
An excerpt from the UFC’s memo reads:
“This means you should not leave the athlete hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result.”
Should a competitor booked to fight on Saturday test negative for the virus, he or she can go on with preparation for the fight.
On the contrary, however, should a competitor booked to fight on Saturday test positive for the virus, he or she will remain in the hotel room before they receive subsequent protocol.
Fighters and their teams will receive two tests for COVID-19 during fight week, including one after Friday’s weigh-in.
Subsequent to the second test, teams booked for Saturday night’s event are required to isolate in hotel rooms overnight and will only be allowed to leave when they’ve been instructed to report to the UFC Apex prior to the next day’s card.
The following is another excerpt from the UFC’s memo:
“During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the Athlete Hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.”
Gilbert Burns fights Tyron Woodley in the Welterweight main event on Saturday night.
We’ll have a full preview of the card later in the week.