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UFC 251: Detailed look at strict COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines for ‘Fight Island’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) already had a very strict safety program to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at its events, which began on May 9, 2020, with UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Fla., and continued on to its most recent events in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But, with the promotion gearing up for the heavily-anticipated month of July, which will see Dana White and Co. stage four events in 15 days on “Fight Island” on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (sneak peek here), starting with UFC 251 on July 11, UFC is further enhancing its existing protocols. That’s because UFC will begin to fly in its international stars, as well as many fighters who reside stateside, into the island.

MMA Junkie obtained specific details regarding the agenda and guidelines all fighters must adhere to while on “Fight Island.” And it is very strict.

Hotel Details

  • A ballroom has been converted into a gym with cardio equipment.
  • Each athlete will receive “sufficient accommodation for themselves and all of their camp.”
  • Each athlete will receive a private workout area with mats – a converted bedroom, close to the room they are staying in.
  • Cleaning products will be supplied to the athletes, as well as a portable sauna.
  • Athletes will not have access to the rooms until they pass COVID-19 tests.

Dining and Food

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided to each athlete, as well as $150 credit/per day for a la carte items.
  • Three dining options are available – two restaurants (which will only allow 30 percent capacity) or in-room dining. There are also a handful of out-of-pocket restaurants on the premises.
  • Athletes will not be eligible for the free meal options (above) on the days they are utilizing Trifecta (the UFC PI’s nutrition program) meals.

Testing, Social Distancing and PPE

Athletes and corners will be tested four times:

  1. Pre-departure
  2. Upon arrival at the airport
  3. In the hotel room, once results come back from Test 2
  4. On weigh-in day

The testing procedures dovetail with a previously-released outline of what all travelers should expect:

  • Fighters will be required to wear facemasks and gloves whenever they are outside of their rooms or workout rooms.
  • UFC will provide athletes with PPE.
  • UFC asks athletes and corners to remain two meters apart whenever possible.
  • Hotel rooms will be cleaned every 48 hours.

Communal Areas

  • No more than 21 people are allowed in the hotel gym at a time.
  • Every two hours, the gym will be closed for short cleaning.
  • The gym is open 24 hours, but because of capacity restrictions, is only accessible to athletes and camps from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • No towels or water stations will be provided.
  • Individuals must disinfect equipment after use.
  • The pool and spa are closed.

Local Area

  • Shops: There are no shops or stores located in the safe zone, with the exception of a “basic shop” in the hotel.
  • Restaurants: There are options for dining in the Yas Plaza hotel area.
  • Golf course: A golf course on the premises will be open to athletes.
  • “Other attractions” will also be open.
  • Food deliveries must enter through a designated “safe zone”
  • Food deliveries are not permitted unless they are deemed “business essential.”

Furthermore, the timelines for events show that all events will start well after midnight local time to line up with the usual live ESPN+ and ESPN start times. It also prevents fighters from having to fight in the excruciating Abu Dhabi heat, which will reach upward of 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the month of July.

Early bird gets the worm!

In total, the promotion has staged eight events since returning from its two-month hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All told, one fighter — Ronaldo Souza — and four cornermen have tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to three canceled fights.

For more upcoming UFC events click here.

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