Dana White Defies Coronavirus Critics as UFC Returns to Business as Usual

UFC president Dana White has been slammed by at least one epidemiologist in the runup to UFC 250, after Ronaldo Souza tested positive for coronavirus ahead of UFC 249.

At the last landmark UFC event, Souza tested positive for coronavirus after coming into contact with two of his cornermen, who also tested positive for the virus. While all three men were tested positive, they were considered asymptomatic and Souza was permitted to remain on the card.

Souza also attended UFC 249’s weigh-in, where he came into physical contact with a number of people, including Dana White, who he exchanged a fist bump with.

Experts Questioning the UFC’s System

As the US death toll crosses the 90,000 threshold, it’s led to the epidemiological community questioning the UFC’s handling of the current global pandemic and the risks fighters and their teams bring.

Dr. Zachary Binney from Atlanta said in a tweet, “The UFC and Dana White were negligent. Tried to restart early, the predictable thing happened, and they mishandled it. If this was your system working as designed, your system is bogus.”

Despite the situation with Souza, and the avalanche of criticism that followed, the UFC is pressing ahead with a number of smaller Fight Night events, and UFC 250 on June 6th.

UFC 250 in Chaos as Date Edges Closer

UFC 250 was supposed to be a celebration of a major landmark in the history of the organization. Instead, fight fans are going to have to be content with a stripped-down card.

There’s only a single major title fight on the card, featuring Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer for the Women’s Featherweight Championship.

The original event was scheduled to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but after the venue was converted into a field hospital to care for coronavirus patients, a number of big-name fighters pulled out.

Just some of the fights to be canceled included Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ketlen Viera vs. Marion Reneau, and Carlos Felipe vs. Sergey Spivak.

To add to the chaos, a few weeks out from UFC 250 and the organization have still yet to name a venue for the event. However, pundits argue that Florida appears to be the most likely location, due to the fact that the state has authorized MMA and professional wrestling to function as ‘essential businesses’ throughout the pandemic.

However, Dana White has expressed a desire to move future US fights back to Las Vegas. This is pending approval by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, though.

The UFC appears to be waiting until the last possible moment before it decides on the location for UFC 250.

What Could More Positive Tests Mean for the UFC?

The UFC has detailed its robust testing process on countless occasions. However, Souza’s positive test has demonstrated just what could happen if a fighter tests positive.

Unlike in other sports, athletes are spread all over the world and aren’t monitored by the organization. Self-isolation and social distancing measures are entirely on the fighters until they reach the host city for the event.

Positive tests for the virus could tear upcoming events apart as these tests are performed just days before an event is due to take place. In a sport like MMA, it’s impossible to simply replace an athlete with someone else.

The UFC has been lucky to have only reported on one positive test thus far, but as cases increase around the world, there could be a disaster waiting to happen.

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