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UFC veteran now fighting coronavirus as front lines nurse — ‘Patients are dying in front of me, gasping for air’

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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight Phillipe Nover, perhaps best known to mixed martial arts (MMA) fans as “the next Anderson Silva” following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8, is now a full-time nurse fighting the coronavirus pandemic on the front lines.

And for all those people who are complaining that they’re “bored” from being stuck at home under quarantine, I can assure you that Nover, as well as many other overworked health care professionals in New York, would love to trade places with them right about now.

“I mean this pandemic is spreading so rapidly and there was only one hospital in Long Island that was able to actually test in the hospital,” Nover, 36, told MMA Fighting. “It took three days even to get the results and that was as of a week or 10 days ago. Now we’re moving quick where we’re testing people, but we still don’t have enough tests. You literally have to be critical and have a lot of symptoms to be tested. There’s an influx of patients. Our emergency rooms are maxed out most of the time at 80 to 100 percent. Our ICU’s maxed out.”

COVID-19 continues to put a strain on resources around the globe, but that hasn’t stopped UFC President Dana White from moving forward with his April 18 fight card, arguing that his fighters are under the best medical care and will be continuously monitored for coronavirus.

“The chances of these young, healthy athletes getting sick is pretty low,” Nover said. “The MMA world is a lot of young studs, who pretty much think they’ll never die. It’s a high risk population. They’ll probably just self-quarantine for two weeks but the big risk is them contracting it, being a carrier, and then spreading it to people who aren’t young athletes.”

In addition to fighters, live events would also require a production staff, referees, judges, and doctors, among others. Even with a bare bones roster, that’s a lot of people to account for and we also can’t rule out the training risks that take place beforehand.

“How about their parents? How about people around them? It’s a very tricky topic,” Nover continued. “I haven’t even visited my parents. I could visit them but I chose not to. I told them just to stay home. It’s just too much. And with the stuff I’ve seen in the hospital, I’ve seen such horrific stuff when it comes to COVID-19. Patients dying in front of me, gasping for air. It’s not a sight that I want to see anymore and I think just quarantining and staying home would be helpful.”

An announcement on the future of UFC 249 is expected in the coming days.