2020 has been an arduous year for all, with many sporting organizations finding it hard to get the show back on the road.
The UFC are one of a very small handful that managed to produce routine events for the majority of the calendar year, going as far to bring fans the action from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Yet despite the number of pay-per-views featured and money generated, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to have an effect.
Fans have become accustomed to fights being scratched last minute due to positive COVID-19 tests; look no further than last weekend’s main event between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. It was bumped off the card only a day before they were scheduled to compete. It’s only normal to receive news of the odd positive test, but why have so many tested positive during fight week? Especially considering a ‘bubble’ was reportedly implemented for athlete and staff safety.
According to reddit user r/bsWINcups – who has claimed to be the man cornering UFC welterweight Mike Perry on last month’s November 22nd PPV card – fighters (and presumably their coaches) are free to leave their hotel between arrival and weigh-ins, ruling out any use of a protective bubble.
“You can actually leave the fighter hotel throughout the week. Something I didn’t know until I was there,” he wrote. “You take a test as soon as you arrive and then you are free to go wherever in Vegas until weigh-ins. After weigh-ins, you get tested again and can’t leave until fight night.”
“I thought it was weird but it’s how these fighters are testing positive on fight day/weigh-in day.”
If true, this is a key factor as to why many UFC athletes are turning in a positive COVID-19 the day of, or before, competition.
UFC on ESPN 19 – which is currently underway – saw the removal of three fights just hours before airing. This marked the third time in 2020 that an event consisted of eight fights or less.