It appears, after a month of coronavirus discourse and a false start, the UFC is really going forward with UFC 249 on Saturday.
In order to make it happen, the promotion has secured more than 1,200 coronavirus testing kits to ensure its first event in nearly two months is virus-free, according John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal.
UFC has 1,200+ coronavirus tests on hand to make sure its fighters stay safe this weekend. COO Lawrence Epstein walked me through its plans. SBJ Media is live: 🔒https://t.co/JbM1hvBztb🔒 pic.twitter.com/KSP2RfLhc3— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 6, 2020
While the topic of sports leagues getting priority access to coronavirus tests has been a hot-button topic amid the pandemic, a UFC executive insisted that the promotion’s tests aren’t being taken out of the hands of people who really need them:
“In the early days of this epidemic, the testing capacity had to be focused exclusively on first responders, healthcare workers and people who were sick,” Epstein said. “Now with testing capacity expanding, many of these tests that organizations like ours are getting access to don’t impact that testing.”
On a related note, the NBA has reportedly estimated it will need roughly 15,000 tests to finish its season while keeping players and employees safe from an outbreak. Unlike UFC president Dana White, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he can’t abide reopening his league if it means using a large number of tests while the public doesn’t have mass access.
It’s true the public doesn’t have mass access. With states individually vying for tests, many have come up short in a surreal marketplace. There isn’t even enough testing to proactively test the 100 U.S. Senators charged with fixing the economy.
Still, the UFC has fought tooth and nail to hold events amid the pandemic, going as far as renting out California tribal land to circumvent state mandates and secure a private island for international fights.
Those efforts will culminate in the promotion finally holding an event on Saturday in Jacksonville, where Tony Ferguson is set to face Justin Gaethje for the UFC interim lightweight belt in the main event. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been aggressive in luring sports to the state by deeming them “essential services.”
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