UFC 249 will not look fairly like the everyday battle card placed on by the promotion.
Along with no followers being current at VyStar Veterans Memorial Enviornment in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, there can be different adjustments noticeable to the viewers at dwelling, in line with UFC government vice chairman of operation and manufacturing Craig Borsari. The brand new protocols have been put in place as precautionary measures as a part of the UFC’s plan to mitigate the danger of operating a sporting occasion through the coronavirus pandemic.
Borsari informed ESPN on Tuesday that members of the printed group can be sitting at separate tables away from each other, that post-fight interviews is not going to happen within the Octagon and that each one crew members will put on private protecting tools, together with N95 masks and gloves. Sources informed ESPN that officers are additionally figuring out particulars about disinfecting the cage between fights.
“Quite a lot of the work we’re doing can be happening behind the digicam,” Borsari stated. “A few of it can happen on digicam. However we’ll attempt to create the UFC product that we have finished for years and years now and produce that to folks of their houses to allow them to have a little bit of an escape right here for not less than a couple of hours.”
The published group can be made up of play-by-play announcer Jon Anik and coloration commentators Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. On a standard UFC present, Rogan would interview the winner of most fights contained in the Octagon on the conclusion of the bout. On Saturday, the profitable fighter can be guided to an remoted space outdoors the cage and given a sanitized headset, and Rogan will interview her or him from his cageside location.
The presentation of every battle can be barely completely different as a result of there can be no followers. Borsari stated there can be extra of an emphasis on listening to the fighters’ coaches and corners advise them from outdoors the cage, in addition to the sounds of punches and kicks touchdown.
“For battle followers, I believe a few of them perhaps even want with the ability to hear nook audio a little bit clearer since you’re not combating that with 20,000 folks screaming,” Borsari stated. “Listening to a few of that instruction for a real, avid battle fan could be actually fascinating. It may possibly provide some insights you would not sometimes get. We’ll search for the chance to leverage that once we can.”
Behind the scenes, there can be loads of adjustments as nicely. The variety of folks on the manufacturing crew has been diminished by about 50, from a standard group of about 130 to someplace within the 80s, Borsari stated. The variety of personnel within the manufacturing truck can be restricted with using cellular models, and those that stay within the truck can be separated by plastic partitions. Social distancing can be practiced within the area space by workers and media members, of which fewer than 20 can be current.
As reported by ESPN on Monday, everybody concerned within the occasion staying on the host lodge can be examined for COVID-19 earlier than they test in. Most fighters and their corners are anticipated to test in Wednesday. Borsari stated the COVID-19 swab testing outcomes can be again inside 24 hours, and folks can be requested to self-isolate inside purpose till these outcomes return. There may also be antibody testing administered to find out if anybody beforehand had the coronavirus. Particular person medical screening, together with taking temperatures, can be finished daily whereas these concerned within the occasion stay on the lodge.
Borsari stated the UFC has obtained sufficient COVID-19 exams to check everybody for UFC 249 and the opposite Jacksonville battle playing cards on Could 13 and Could 16. He stated the supply of testing has elevated “throughout the nation” over the previous few weeks, and it was not onerous for the UFC to acquire exams.
“We have been ready the place it wasn’t tough for us to acquire the correct quantity of exams to maintain everyone protected,” Borsari stated. “We even have Dr. [Jeffrey] Davidson, who’s form of overseeing precisely how they will be administered and the protocols to get outcomes and clear folks to get a clear invoice of well being to proceed to work.”
Fighters and their groups may have particular person exercise rooms on the lodge, with mats, mat sanitizer and private saunas for weight chopping, in line with a UFC electronic mail despatched to athletes. The housekeeping workers can be geared up with hospital-grade sanitizer, the e-mail stated.
On the official weigh-ins Friday morning, the social-distancing practices required within the area the next evening can be carried out, Borsari stated. The UFC operations group will work with battle camps on when every fighter can be coming to the dimensions, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. native time.
“So we do not have a giant backlog of fighters all coming in on the identical time and having dozens of individuals in a small, confined space,” Borsari stated.
Borsari stated the UFC will proceed to work with the Florida State Boxing Fee and native officers over the course of three battle playing cards in eight days. Protocols will stay fluid, and issues may change from card to card, relying on what works and what doesn’t.
“We really feel like we put collectively an extremely thorough plan to essentially take care of the well being and security of not simply the athletes and their group members however your entire manufacturing crew and operations crew and the officers which are a part of the occasion and can be there on occasion evening,” Borsari stated. “We’re assured about it.”
He stated the method, which features a 25-page plan despatched to the fee this week, has been a “fairly huge enterprise.”
“A giant purpose behind that’s as a result of this hasn’t been finished,” Borsari stated. “There is no highway map. There is no blueprint on how to do that and the way to do that the best method. We’re figuring it out as we go and taking over challenges and issues that pop up in actual time, making selections in actual time. My telephone battery appears to die earlier than 1 p.m. native time each single day as a result of we’re simply rolling from one name to the subsequent and convention calls and Zoom calls, you title it.”