The UFC has concluded its triple header of occasions in Jacksonville, Florida, because it grew to become the primary sporting organisation to return to motion in america for the reason that cornavirus shutdown.
With the well being of fighters and help employees a priority, the UFC sought to scale back the chance by using a number of measures, together with Covid-19 and antibody testing, and day by day medical check-ups.
There was one notable scare earlier than 9 Could’s UFC 249 occasion when Brazilian fighter Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and two of his cornermen examined constructive for Covid-19 upon their arrival in Jacksonville. However, slightly than cancel the occasion, the UFC as a substitute moved to isolate the three males and offered instant medical help whereas persevering with with the reveals, which delivered a hat-trick of spectacular battle nights.
“It feels good,” UFC president Dana White advised reporters on the post-fight information convention.
“I am blissful to have it behind me. It was profitable in each means it may very well be profitable. I really feel nice about it. Extra importantly, no person is sick. No one has gotten sick. There is no ensures in life, however hopefully that is the case and all of us go residence. It was an amazing occasion. It was an amazing week.”
‘It is like having 77 coaches – I heard the whole lot’
The occasions themselves have been held behind closed doorways on the VyStar Veterans Memorial Enviornment. It made for an eerie, but compelling viewing expertise, with the roar of the gang changed by the sound of punches and kicks echoing across the empty enviornment, with the voices of the cornermen clearly audible throughout the fights.
One fighter who stated he relished the expertise was UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy, who defined that he instantly benefited from the shortage of crowd noise as he reacted to listening to co-commentator – and former two-division UFC champion – Daniel Cormier describing how he ought to cope with the punishing leg kicks he was receiving from opponent Yorgan de Castro.
“It is like having 77 coaches,” he laughed.
“You’ve got acquired Daniel Cormier again there, like, ‘Hey, if he does not test that leg, he will lose that entrance leg.’ I heard the whole lot.
“I might hear my particular person coaches. I might hear particular person directions. I might hear De Castro’s coaches, so it was tremendous candy.”
Hardy, who has bronchial asthma, was open about his coronavirus considerations heading into battle week, and admitted after his victory that listening to about Souza’s failed check left him in a slight panic earlier than his battle. However he leaned on his prior expertise as an NFL participant to assist him keep centered throughout the build-up.
He stated: “We’re quarantining, panicking all the best way up till the battle, and as quickly as I came upon that I did not have it, however ‘Jacare’ has it, I used to be, like, ‘Oh my god. Do I get retested? What do I do?’
“So I freaked out a little bit bit, however like I stated, the principle factor about this camp was holding composure as a result of we knew it was going to be loopy. It was about being an expert, utilizing what I discovered within the NFL, transitioning into MMA and ensuring I used to be a professional this week.”
What subsequent for the UFC?
Whereas the shortage of a crowd could have supplied a special atmosphere to the Jacksonville reveals, long-time followers who’ve watched the UFC’s talent-finding actuality present, The Final Fighter, and midweek fight-night programme Dana White’s Contender Collection, shall be conversant in seeing fighters compete in near-empty rooms, with each reveals that includes prospects preventing on closed units on the UFC’s purpose-built services.
It’s hoped the latest of these services, the UFC Apex, will type the short-term residence for the organisation’s Las Vegas reveals within the close to future. The multi-million-dollar facility was constructed particularly for the UFC to carry small-scale occasions for broadcast on its live-streaming platform, UFC Combat Move. However now the Apex might come into its personal because the UFC’s residence for US-based reveals over the approaching months, with restrictions anticipated to be eased in Nevada within the coming weeks.
However, with journey restrictions into, and out of, america that means a big portion of the UFC roster remains to be unable to journey to America to compete, White and the UFC want a further resolution to make sure their full worldwide roster can return to motion. Remarkably, White has addressed the issue by securing using an unspecified non-public island, the place he plans to host worldwide occasions within the coming months.
Dubbed ‘Combat Island’, the thriller location might, in line with White, stage the returns to motion of undefeated UFC light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Irish celebrity Conor McGregor, in addition to the UFC’s UK fighters, together with Darren Until, Leon Edwards and Molly McCann.
It appears unlikely we’ll see followers inside a UFC enviornment till a lot later, after journey restrictions and social distancing measures have been considerably eased. However, after efficiently internet hosting three occasions in fast succession, White and the UFC head residence to Las Vegas and are getting ready to start out internet hosting common occasions – albeit behind closed doorways – as soon as once more.
“We labored laborious to drag this factor off,” stated White, whose group has shared its operational documentation with different US sporting leagues and executives.
“Nothing means extra to me than the protection of everyone that was concerned within the occasion. Not simply with Covid-19, however the battle that wasn’t stopped quickly sufficient – all these sort of issues. Anytime we end an occasion, I would like everyone to go residence protected. It is not any totally different now with the Covid-19 factor.
“We’ll do the whole lot in our energy. We’ll spend the cash. We’ll get the very best, the brightest. We’ll speak to medical doctors and consultants within the subject to determine learn how to beat it. One of many issues I at all times do is I consider nothing is unimaginable. All the pieces might be achieved, particularly in 2020. You simply need to be prepared to work laborious sufficient, spend some cash and provide you with options.”