Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was scheduled to face off with Uriah Hall on Saturday night during UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida. He has now been pulled from the card after testing positive for COVID-19. The event will still continue now that the other 23 fighters have tested negative.
According to ESPN, Souza drove to Jacksonville on Wednesday and informed UFC officials that one of his family members might have been infected with the coronavirus. He was immediately tested and monitored. Souza still took part in weigh-ins and faced off with Hall while maintaining social distancing. He even wore a mask and gloves during the pre-fight tradition. The 40-year-old was later pulled from the fight card once his test results returned.
"UFC's medical team examined Souza and his two cornermen and found them to be currently asymptomatic, or not exhibiting the common symptoms of COVID-19," the UFC said in a statement. "As per UFC's health and safety protocols, all three men have left the host hotel and will be self-isolating off premises, where UFC's medical team will monitor their conditions remotely and will provide assistance with any necessary treatment."
The UFC officials conferred with the Florida State Boxing Commission after Souza tested positive and decided to move forward with Saturday's event. UFC President Dana White said that 1,200 tests were administered this week on 300 people. Only Souza tested positive.
"@JacareMMA Brother I know it sucks I'm sorry you have to go through this I am beyond devastated for the missed opportunity I wish you nothing but recovery for you and your family," Hall wrote on Twitter after news surfaced about Souza. His head coach, Sayif Saud, also said that the team wishes Souza nothing but the best. They are anticipating a fight in the future.
Prior to his positive test, Souza spoke with ESPN about fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic. He revealed that he was afraid to take part in certain aspects of his daily life. However, he was still willing to face off with Hall during UFC 249.0comments
"I am afraid to do everything, even to go to the supermarket," Souza said in the translated interview. "But there is something I have to do, there is no escape. I prefer to work and take the risk because these are things we will have to do. But we are very concerned with this business. It is very serious, there are many people dying, it is complicated and sad."
UFC 249 will move ahead as planned on Saturday night. The main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. The preliminaries will begin at 6 p.m. on ESPN. This will be the UFC's first event since March 14 and will be held without fans in attendance.