Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
UFC Vegas 9 turned out to be a chaotic week with a plethora of changes and lost bouts all the way up until, nearly, the first bout of the night.
Heading into fight week, one bout was officially removed from the card with Julia Avila and Nicco Montano getting rescheduled to Oct. 3 after Montano tested positive for COVID-19. Montana De La Rosa, Sijara Eubanks and Brian Kelleher all got new opponents for a variety of reasons, and two of the three had additional hiccups in the days leading up to the event at the UFC APEX.
Eubanks’ scheduled opponent Karol Rosa was hospitalized on Thursday due to a bad weight cut and “Sarj” was rebooked to face Avila at this Saturday’s UFC Vegas 10 event. Pandemic or not, this is something we have seen before.
However, on fight day, three fights were either no longer on the card, or completely changed. Kelleher would take on, and submit, Ray Rodriguez after Kevin Natividad was a late scratch. A lightweight bout between Thiago Moises and Jalin Turner was removed after Moises tested positive for COVID-19, as well as the heavyweight matchup between Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Alexander Romanov after the Brazilian fighter also tested positive, leaving UFC Vegas 9 with seven total fights.
Following DWCS Season 4: Week 6, UFC president Dana White spoke with members of the media and was asked about whether or not the late shakeups from this past Saturday’s event has led to additional concern within the promotion.
“Look at the history here,” White told reporters backstage at the UFC APEX. “Look at what we’ve done and how it’s all worked out. One of the things that we’re not doing that other sports are doing is there’s people that keep testing positive but they have no symptoms and they’re not contagious. They’re letting those guys play, whether it’s the NBA or Major League Baseball. We’re not. That’s the difference.”
Despite having multiple changes to the event—along with other cards over the last several weeks—White feels confident in the health and safety protocols that have been put in place. When it comes to this past Saturday’s event, the UFC president feels it was more of an anomaly.
“We just had a situation last week where they tested negative, negative, then tested positive,” White explained. “This thing is f*ckin wacky and you do the best you can. We’re doing everything the right way and, who knows with this thing? Nobody has been able to get this thing figured out yet. We’ve been solid.”
One thing that has been noticeable throughout the UFC’s COVID-19 era is White has been rarely, if ever, seen wearing a mask and has constantly been in contact with fighters during the weigh-in faceoffs.
For those who have an issue with it, don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
“Think about me: I’ve been there, I shake their hands, I do all this other stuff and I haven’t had COVID,” White said. “I will shake people’s hands until the day I die.”