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As COVID-19 cases rise, UFC implements tighter bubble protocols around year-end event

The UFC has implemented new fight week COVID-19 protocols ahead of Saturday’s year-end event.

With the U.S. coronavirus-related death toll approaching 300,000, the promotion has notified athletes and corners partaking in UFC Fight Night 183 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas of new transportation restrictions in place for the duration of their stay.

On Monday, the UFC outlined the plan in an email sent to fighters, coaches, and corners. MMA Junkie obtained a copy of the email after it was first published by Twitter user Alex Scaffidi.

The memo reads as follows:

“***The following applies to all athletes and corners participating in UFC Fight Night on December 19th in Las Vegas. Please read this information carefully. ***

“Use of Transportation During Fight Week

“To ensure the integrity of UFC’s Covid-19 testing and quarantine protocols, no athlete or corner will be permitted to use any vehicle not officially approved or arranged by UFC once the athlete or corner has checked in for Fight Week. This includes personally owned vehicles, rental vehicles, a friend’s vehicle, or ride share vehicles, such as Uber or Lyft.

“This policy applies to ALL athletes and corners, including those based in Las Vegas, as well as those based outside of Las Vegas.

“In addition, any athlete or corner who leaves the hotel property without coordinating with UFC Event Operations, including post fight, will not be allowed back into the hotel.

“If an athlete or corner needs transportation for any reason during Fight Week, including to go to the market, the UFC Performance Institute, or UFC APEX, they must call (redacted) with UFC Event Operations.

“Thank you in advance for your cooperation.”

While it’s unclear what exactly the related protocols were prior to the current week, recent “Emebbed” series episodes from UFC 255 and UFC 256 fight weeks indicated fighters were allowed to leave the hotel at their leisure to travel The Strip, go shopping, and train at local gyms.

The promotion already has lost numerous fights this month because of COVID-19-related withdrawals – many of them last minute on weigh-in or fight day. Ahead of the Dec. 5 card, Kevin Holland, Movsar Evloev, and Montana De La Rosa all were forced out of their fights due to positive COVID-19 tests. UFC 256 last week lost four fights due to COVID-19, and this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 183 has lost Dhiego Lima vs. Belal Muhammad as a result of Muhammad contracting COVID-19.

At this past Saturday’s UFC 256 post-fight news conference, UFC president Dana White voiced frustration with 2020 despite claims of the promotion’s success. In 2021, White is going to focus solely on fights while the rest of the world continues to figure out how to deal with the pandemic.

“I don’t know how the rest of the world is going to be, and I’ve already sort of set my mind,” White said. “I’m in a place where I don’t give a (expletive) what goes on with the rest of the world. This is the only world that I have to focus on and think about, and take care of my people, my family, and whatever else goes on. (Expletive) it. Whatever, man. I’m just focused on what’s going on here, so yeah, that’s my attitude going into 2021.”

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