UFC 249 will not look fairly like the everyday combat card placed on by the promotion.
Along with no followers being current at VyStar Veterans Memorial Enviornment in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, there will likely be different modifications noticeable to the viewers at house, based on UFC government vice chairman of operation and manufacturing Craig Borsari. The brand new protocols have been put in place as precautionary measures as a part of the UFC’s plan to mitigate the chance of operating a sporting occasion in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
Borsari advised ESPN on Tuesday that members of the printed workforce will likely be sitting at separate tables away from each other, that post-fight interviews won’t happen within the Octagon and that each one crew members will put on private protecting tools, together with N95 masks and gloves. Sources advised ESPN that officers are additionally understanding particulars about disinfecting the cage between fights.
“Quite a lot of the work we’re doing will likely be happening behind the digicam,” Borsari mentioned. “A few of it should happen on digicam. However we’ll attempt to create the UFC product that we have completed for years and years now and convey that to folks of their houses to allow them to have a little bit of an escape right here for at the very least a couple of hours.”
The published workforce will likely be made up of play-by-play announcer Jon Anik and shade commentators Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. On a standard UFC present, Rogan would interview the winner of most fights contained in the Octagon on the conclusion of the bout. On Saturday, the profitable fighter will likely be guided to an remoted space exterior the cage and given a sanitized headset, and Rogan will interview her or him from his cageside location.
The presentation of every combat will likely be barely completely different as a result of there will likely be no followers. Borsari mentioned there will likely be extra of an emphasis on listening to the fighters’ coaches and corners advise them from exterior the cage, in addition to the sounds of punches and kicks touchdown.
“For combat followers, I believe a few of them perhaps even choose having the ability to hear nook audio just a little clearer since you’re not combating that with 20,000 folks screaming,” Borsari mentioned. “Listening to a few of that instruction for a real, avid combat fan could be actually fascinating. It may well supply some insights you would not usually get. We’ll search for the chance to leverage that once we can.”
Behind the scenes, there will likely be loads of modifications as effectively. The variety of folks on the manufacturing crew has been diminished by about 50, from a standard group of about 130 to someplace within the 80s, Borsari mentioned. The variety of personnel within the manufacturing truck will likely be restricted with using cell models, and people who stay within the truck will likely be separated by plastic partitions. Social distancing will likely be practiced within the area space by employees and media members, of which fewer than 20 will likely be current.
As reported by ESPN on Monday, everybody concerned within the occasion staying on the host resort will likely be examined for COVID-19 earlier than they examine in. Most fighters and their corners are anticipated to examine in Wednesday. Borsari mentioned the COVID-19 swab testing outcomes will likely be again inside 24 hours, and other people will likely be requested to self-isolate inside motive till these outcomes return. There will even be antibody testing administered to find out if anybody beforehand had the coronavirus. Particular person medical screening, together with taking temperatures, will likely be completed daily whereas these concerned within the occasion stay on the resort.
Borsari mentioned the UFC has obtained sufficient COVID-19 exams to check everybody for UFC 249 and the opposite Jacksonville combat playing cards on Could 13 and Could 16. He mentioned the supply of testing has elevated “throughout the nation” over the previous few weeks, and it was not arduous for the UFC to acquire exams.
“We had been ready the place it wasn’t tough for us to acquire the correct quantity of exams to maintain all people secure,” Borsari mentioned. “We even have Dr. [Jeffrey] Davidson, who’s form of overseeing precisely how they’re going to be administered and the protocols to get outcomes and clear folks to get a clear invoice of well being to proceed to work.”
Fighters and their groups can have particular person exercise rooms on the resort, with mats, mat sanitizer and private saunas for weight chopping, based on a UFC e-mail despatched to athletes. The housekeeping employees will likely be geared up with hospital-grade sanitizer, the e-mail mentioned.
On the official weigh-ins Friday morning, the social-distancing practices required within the area the next evening will likely be carried out, Borsari mentioned. The UFC operations workforce will work with combat camps on when every fighter will likely be coming to the dimensions, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. native time.
“So we do not have an enormous backlog of fighters all coming in on the identical time and having dozens of individuals in a small, confined space,” Borsari mentioned.
Borsari mentioned the UFC will proceed to work with the Florida State Boxing Fee and native officers over the course of three combat playing cards in eight days. Protocols will stay fluid, and issues may change from card to card, relying on what works and what doesn’t.
“We really feel like we put collectively an extremely thorough plan to essentially take care of the well being and security of not simply the athletes and their workforce members however the whole manufacturing crew and operations crew and the officers which can be a part of the occasion and will likely be there on occasion evening,” Borsari mentioned. “We’re assured about it.”
He mentioned the method, which features a 25-page plan despatched to the fee this week, has been a “fairly large endeavor.”
“An enormous motive behind that’s as a result of this hasn’t been completed,” Borsari mentioned. “There is no highway map. There is no blueprint on how to do that and the way to do that the appropriate method. We’re figuring it out as we go and taking over challenges and issues that pop up in actual time, making selections in actual time. My telephone battery appears to die earlier than 1 p.m. native time each single day as a result of we’re simply rolling from one name to the subsequent and convention calls and Zoom calls, you identify it.”