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UFC 249 fighters must pass ‘diagnostic swab’ and ‘antibody’ coronavirus tests to compete on May 9

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has implemented comprehensive safety protocols for those fighters on the scene for UFC 249 this week in Jacksonville, Florida, to identify the presence of coronavirus and help prevent the potential spread of the life-threatening disease.

That includes “diagnostic swab” and “antibody” tests for COVID-19. The former requires a long-ass cotton swab to be jammed into dark cavities while the latter is based on a blood sample. Sounds like administering the test is about as unpleasant as actually taking it.

“Part of what gave us comfort was a plan [UFC] outlined related to testing those they’re bringing to Jacksonville related to COVID-19,” Jacksonville chief administrative officer Brian Hughes told ESPN. “Based on what we’ve been briefed, it is clear that they’re going to test for COVID and they’ll have a couple of different segments of testing throughout the week.”

Fighters staying at the host hotel will be assigned individual workout rooms equipped with mats, sanitizer, and personal saunas. VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena — home to three UFC events within the next two weeks — will be scrubbed down in between cards.

Nothing is fool proof and even competing inside an empty arena carries risk. There is only so much “social distancing” you can do during a live production but it sounds like the promotion is employing every tactic available to get this event streamed as safely as possible on May 9 in “The Sunshine State.” will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 249 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 249: “Ferguson vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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