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Quarantine rules have Dan Hooker in limbo for six weeks after fighting at UFC 257

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The cost of living in a COVID-free country? It’s a serious pain in the ass to get back in once you leave.

UFC Fight Night: Felder v Hooker Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

A ton of people’s lives are being inconvenienced, ruined and straight up ended by the coronavirus and its restrictions. That extends to the mixed martial arts (MMA) world where many promotions shut down for 2020, fighters got sick in high numbers from training, and many spent weeks quarantining just to get to their jobs. “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has a mandatory quarantine period that lasts days while they test and re-test to ensure visitors aren’t carrying the virus.

But New Zealand, which has eradicated COVID-19 from the population, is even more hardcore. Just take a look at what UFC 257 co-main event Kiwi Dan Hooker is dealing with in order to fight Michael Chandler on Jan. 23, 2021.

“Dan Hooker just told me due to quarantine rules, he will have to stay in Abu Dhabi for a month after UFC 257 before returning home to New Zealand where he will do another 2 week quarantine,” MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin wrote on Twitter. “He won’t actually get home until around March 3. The plus side is New Zealand has pretty much eradicated the coronavirus. Dan told me life has completely returned to normal there. No masks, events are being held with 20,000 or 30,000 fans in attendance, etc.”

I am currently living in full quarantine with an 8 p.m. curfew for the next month, so that sounds pretty all right. And Hooker’s not kidding about events with 30,000 people going off right now. Here’s his teammate and fellow New Zealander Israel Adesanya enjoying a massive New Year’s Eve rave festival as he reacts to the announcement of his Light Heavyweight title fight against Jan Blachowicz in March:

New Zealand’s iron bubble is already causing UFC some headaches when it comes to booking fights. A bout between Australian Featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega was originally penciled in by the promotion for February, but hasn’t come together yet because Volkanovski needed extra time to get into New Zealand so he could train with his team for the fight.

Volkanovski has suggested a March date, but with UFC 259 already featuring three title fights we think these lengthy quarantine times may have pushed that bout back to April at a minimum.