UFC cuts bout after fighter tests positive for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: May 9, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; A general view of the empty octagon before UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - UFC has withdrawn a bout from Saturday’s card in Jacksonville after middleweight Jacare Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for the new coronavirus, the mixed martial arts promotion said.

Brazilian-born Souza was supposed to fight American Uriah Hall at UFC 249, which was originally scheduled for April 18 in New York but postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“UFC’s medical team examined Souza and his two cornermen and found them to be currently asymptomatic, or not exhibiting the common symptoms of COVID-19,” UFC said in a statement.

“All three men have left the host hotel and will be self-isolating off premises, where UFC’s medical team will monitor their conditions remotely and will provide assistance with any necessary treatment.”

UFC 249 will be broadcast on pay-per-view TV but no fans will be in attendance at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fighters taking part in Saturday’s event were tested for the coronavirus on arrival in Florida, and many of the 24 fighters have been isolating in their rooms as they prepared for their bouts.

“There have been no other positive COVID-19 tests reported from the remaining athletes participating in UFC 249,” the UFC statement added.

“Saturday’s UFC 249 card ... will proceed as scheduled with 11 bouts.”

An interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje tops the bill.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard