Jacare Souza has tested positive for COVID-19. Here's what I was told. pic.twitter.com/3RtslcL6rf— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 9, 2020
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Editor's note: The article has been updated at 11:50 p.m. ET on 5/8/20 to reflect additional information.
The worst fears for UFC 249 have come true: a fighter has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Late on Friday, ESPN reported that Ronaldo Souza has tested positive for Covid-19. Souza was matched up on the preliminary portion of the card against Uriah Hall, and their middleweight bout has been scratched.
The card has not been shut down, and the UFC will be proceeding with 11 fights. The Florida State Boxing Commission has ultimate authority over this event, and the UFC has sought and gained permission to carry out the fight card in lieu of this news. The commission officials allowed the card to continue because the system they put in place caught Souza’s illness and isolated him before he competed.
According to the promotion, Souza was asymptomatic but informed the company officials on Wednesday that a family member had tested positive for the coronavirus. The UFC placed Souza in isolation after taking the test, and his positive results came back on Friday.
Additionally, the UFC announced in a statement on Friday night that two of Souza's cornermen also tested positive for Covid-19. The two cornermen, like Souza, were not displaying the symptoms associated with the coronavirus. The three have left the hotel, and will be monitored by the UFC's medical staff at another isolated location.
Although the organization stated that Souza and the cornermen had been following health and safety protocols, images and video have surfaced showing Souza in close contact with others at the hotel including Fabricio Werdum.
Following the weigh-ins on Friday morning, the promotion put together standard staredowns with UFC President Dana White in the middle of both fighters. Most were jovial and shook hands, hugged and otherwise engaged in physical contact. Donning an N95 mask and purple surgical gloves, “Jacare” stood several feet away from his opponent and White, and they did not physically interact. According to ESPN as well as TSN Sports, this was likely done as a precaution.
UFC 249 is still taking place on May 9 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Tony Ferguson will be taking on Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title in the headliner, while Henry Cejudo defends his bantamweight belt against Dominick Cruz in the co-main event.