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The Ultimate Fighting Championship is changing a few aspects of its COVID-19 testing protocol ahead of its series of “Fight Island” events next month.
MMAFighting.com was first to report on the updates and ESPN added further details regarding the testing. The UFC will hold events on July 11, 15, 18 and 25 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, which is designed to accommodate international athletes who were unable to enter the United States and compete at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas due to travel restrictions.
According to the reports, fighters, coaches and staff will be tested for COVID-19 prior to traveling. Fighters based in the United States will initially go to Las Vegas for testing, and the UFC will charter flights to Abu Dhabi from there. A similar procedure is in place for those outside of the U.S., as Brazilian-based fighters and their teams will go to Sao Paulo, while those based elsewhere will go to either London or Moscow for testing depending on their location. Just like the U.S. fighters, these athletes will also charter flights to Abu Dhabi once COVID-19 testing is completed. Everyone will be quarantined in their respective anchor cities until test results are received.
Upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, fighters, coaches and staff members will receive two more COVID-19 tests and once again remain quarantined until results are received. Everyone involved with the event will be tested again following the conclusion of each fight card.
The area on Yas Island where the UFC is staying is reportedly a true bubble, isolated from the public with no one outside of those involved with the event allowed to enter. Those in the UFC group will not leave until the event concludes.
The first “Fight Island” event is UFC 251 on July 11, which is headlined by a welterweight championship clash between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. The promotion is expected to return to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas for its August series of events.