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The UFC will be instituting even stricter protocols for COVID-19 ahead of the upcoming UFC on ESPN 9 card that’s expected to take place in Las Vegas.
The promotion had already issued a set of rules for fighters and their teams for three previous events held in Jacksonville, Fla. but now the UFC is tightening its grip on the situation with Nevada expected to allow combat sports in the state again beginning this week.
While the Nevada State Athletic Commission will vote on a set of universal COVID-19 protocols on Wednesday, the UFC took a proactive step sending out a memo to fighters and their camps with the rules that must be followed for the event that is scheduled to be held at their Apex facility in Las Vegas. The memo was first reported by MMA Junkie.
These new rules are different and more stringent that the set of protocols that were previously put in place by the organization.
Upon arrival at the host hotel, athletes and their cornermen will be required to take a COVID-19 antigen oropharyngeal swab test. After the test is administered, fighters and their teams will be required to self-isolate inside the host hotel until results have been received.
The athletes and their teams are not allowed to leave the host hotel or have physical contact with anyone else until the test results are returned.
Fighters and their teams will be allowed to resume with normal fight week activities once a test result comes back negative. A positive test will require that the fighter and their teams remain in their hotel rooms while awaiting instructions from the UFC’s medical team.
A second COVID-19 swab test will be required at the host hotel on Friday, May 19 following the weigh-ins. The same rules apply with fighters then told to self-isolate in the host hotel where they will remain overnight until transportation arrives to take them to the UFC Apex facility.
No athletes or their coaches will be allowed to leave the host hotel without prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Fighters are also instructed not to have physical contact with anyone outside of their team.
If the test results come back negative, fighters can move forward with the event. A positive test will force the athletes back into isolation while awaiting instructions from the UFC’s medical team.
The UFC Performance Institute will also remain closed during this time.
Based on the wording in the memo, these rules will be required not only by the UFC but also the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The commission had suspended all combat sports events in the state since mid-March but Gov. Steve Sisolak is expected to announce Phase 2 for re-opening in Nevada on Tuesday, which will seemingly clear the way for combat sports to return without audiences in attendance.
Final protocols required by the commission will be ratified during a meeting on Wednesday with the UFC event then being held on Saturday. UFC on ESPN 9 is headlined by a welterweight showdown between former champion Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns.
The UFC also plans to hold numerous shows at their Apex facility until additional restrictions are lifted, which will then allow fans to attend sporting events again.