The UFC has promised extensive testing of fighters before UFC 249 May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. Now the promotion put it in writing.
An email sent to fighters at the UFC Performance Institute, obtained by MMA Fighting, sets out the combat week protocols for the à la carte event, which includes COVID-19 testing by the medical team of the ‘UFC’.
A person familiar with the plans for the promotion, who declined to be named because they were not made public, told MMA Fighting that the tests include both swab and antibody tests. The former test for the active presence of the virus in the body and involve a six-inch swab inserted into the nasal cavity to collect material from the back of the throat. The latter is done via a blood sample and tests whether a person has been exposed to the virus.
The results should be available before the event, according to the person, although details on the turnaround time and the number of tests performed are not specified in the email. According to a previous email from the UFC regarding security protocols, testing will begin upon arrival of the combatants and will be carried out daily. A report on ESPN.com, which first reported the COVID-19 test protocol, said that the daily checks will include temperature checks and questions about symptoms of coronaviruses.
In addition to being tested for COVID-19, combatants will be examined by a UFC PI dietician to examine their weight and weight reduction methods, nutritional needs and food allergies. The official UFC meal delivery service, Trifecta, will offer meals and snacks before the event and after the weigh-in. Free third-party verified supplements will also be available from UFC sponsor Thorne that aim to maintain a healthy stomach, alleviate the “inflammatory response” to weight loss stress and the “hormonal effects” of cycles menstrual for female combatants. Food will be delivered to athletes’ hotel rooms at scheduled times to allow for social distancing.
Combatants were also assigned to specific members of the medical staff at UFC PI. Staff will manage “performance matters ONLY” before and after the event in a dedicated room for individual treatment, with coaches and teammates not allowed to enter. The combatants must take a shower before the meeting and disinfect their hands, and their temperature will be taken at the entrance. Combatants and IP personnel must wear face masks and gloves. The rooms will be cleaned after each 40 minute session.
An addendum at the bottom of the email states: “The UFC reserves the right, at its discretion, to withdraw, modify or otherwise change any of the services mentioned above. In addition, all policies and procedures, including all medical procedures, are subject to change or modification by the UFC at any time, and are subject to all other policies and procedures that the UFC may implement . The UFC makes no representations or warranties or other promises regarding the availability or effectiveness of any of the services mentioned in this document. “
As previously noted, the UFC has established modified procedures for combatants at the host hotel. Combatants will receive identification information to wear at all times and are expected to receive individual training rooms and personal saunas for weight reduction. Only individual competitors and authorized corners are allowed to enter the training hall throughout the week, and only fighters, authorized cornermen and designated UFC personnel are allowed at the hotel. Hotel staff will wear personal protective equipment and use a hospital grade disinfectant.