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When Jacare Tested Positive

Well….. it happened. One of the greatest fears for UFC officials and sanctioning bodies of this time period have.

A fighter scheduled to compete testing positive for COVID-19.

The biggest fear is probably realizing a fighter is positive for the virus after competition but luckily that’s not the case (as far as our current knowledge is concerned).

For one of the many seemingly superfights scheduled on May 9, 2020, Uriah “Prime Time” Hall was meant to face off against Brazilian legend Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 249. The first card since the COVID cancellations stemming from March was stacked from top to bottom and took place in Jacksonville, Florida.

Fiquei muito triste por não poder lutar no UFC 249, mas quero que saibam que, assim que estiver liberado, espero remarcar minha luta com o Uriah Hall para que eu possa dar o show que todos esperam. Agradeço aos meus corners pela parceria, meu adversário pelas palavras de apoio e ao @ufc pelo cuidado. Obrigado a todos pelo carinho e pelas mensagens que tenho recebido nos últimos dias. Nas próximas semanas estarei recluso com minha família e treinadores e focado em nossa saúde para logo poder estar de volta. Muito obrigado! I was very sad to not be able to fight at UFC 249, but I want you to know that, as soon as I'm medically cleared, I hope to reschedule my fight with Uriah Hall so that I can put on the show that everyone expects. I thank my corners for the partnership, my opponent for the words of support and the UFC for all the care. Thank you all for the kind messages I have received in the last few days. The upcoming weeks I will be secluded with my family and coaches and focused on our health so I can be back soon. Thank you!

A post shared by Ronaldo “Jacaré” 🐊 Souza (@ronaldojacare) on May 13, 2020 at 3:06pm PDT

The current pandemic of COVID-19 or novel Coronavirus has put a halt to workplaces, educational centers and sporting events around the world. UFC President, Dana White, went through endless obstacles to follow guidelines to proceed with the promotion’s highly anticipated April 18th card that was originally set to have Tony Ferguson for the lightweight title against current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although travel restrictions made it to where Justin Gaethje had to fill in and create an interim title match, the entire event eventually had to be postponed. ESPN’s parent company, Disney, told White to pull the plug on the event that was previously rumored to be located at Tachi Palace in California. Instead the UFC 249 card was moved to May 9th with two more cards moved to that following Wednesday and Saturday. 

The UFC has done everything within the guidelines of the state of Florida and acted with professional wisdom to ensure the safety of fighters, coaches and event crews. Which includes COVID-19 testing and no live audience  to follow social distancing practices. Fans and event participants alike were hoping for the best in nobody testing positive for the virus in Jacksonville.

A post shared by Dana White (@danawhite) on May 15, 2020 at 9:29am PDT

When Jacare’s tests came back positive for coronavirus, his match with Uriah Hall was immediately scrapped. For the sake of optics, it looked bad when the video surfaced of Jacare getting way too close to Fabricio Werdum; not observing social distancing. Although Jacare was wearing a surgical mask, the dramatic irony in people knowing that he was positive for coronavirus caused a storm on social media. It was said via ESPN that Jacare made officials aware that a “family member might have been infected with coronavirus.” After Souza’s positive test, him and his cornermen were considered asymptotic. His scheduled fight against Uriah Hall would have been Souza’s first fight in 2020 in what would have been a classic striker vs grappler.

One of the main questions going forward is whether or not more positive tests will affect future cards for the rest of the year.

A post shared by Ronaldo “Jacaré” 🐊 Souza (@ronaldojacare) on May 8, 2020 at 8:54am PDT

In an organization that has the roster size like the UFC, is it possible to not have COVID-19 interfere with more scheduled bouts? How will this impact title pictures amongst the divisions? In an international sport like mixed martial arts, travel restrictions caused by the current pandemic can create problems with making matches to advance weight divisions.

In a statement with, the 40-year-old Ronaldo Souza states that he hopes to have his bout against Hall rescheduled. Other than a fan friendly fight to lift quarantine spirits, there were not many stakes to this fight. Hall does not have a lot of pressure to win with a two-fight winning streak and a crowd favorite like Souza wasn’t as likely to be on the chopping block. Under normal circumstances that might be the case with most fighters but Jacare isn’t most fighters and the testing proves, these fight cards aren’t operating under normal circumstances.

For Uriah Hall, the former kickboxer and World Combat League (WCL) competitor sent out a tweet wishing his would-be opponent well.

A post shared by Uriah Hall (@uriahhall) on May 22, 2020 at 6:13pm PDT

It would seem that the excitement of having a live sporting event for the first time in a month kept focus on the fights proceeding rather than the one that didn’t happen. Aside from Jacare Souza and his team, no other fighters or crew members have tested positive for coronavirus. The May 13th and 16th cards in Jacksonville proceeded without any fight cancellations from the virus. As of this writing, the promotion has a pay-per-view event scheduled June 6th that will be headlined by double champ Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer. From the looks of how the UFC has handled things in Florida, the promotion aims to keep things safe and keep the show going.■

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