UFC athletes will not be asked to cover the costs of their required pre-fight COVID-19 testing.

While recent reports indicated that UFC fighters and their corners would be responsible for paying for their own pre-fight screens moving forward, UFC officials today released the organization’s updated policy, which clarifies the new plan.

“Please be advised that we are updating UFC’s COVID-19 testing program to give all athletes and corners the freedom and flexibility to secure their own COVID-19 test prior to departing for their scheduled UFC event,” UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell stated in a document distributed to all UFC athletes on Wednesday that MMA Junkie also obtained.

“This change is being made because low-cost COVID-19 testing has become readily accessible in the U.S. and abroad. To clarify, UFC will reimburse you for the initial cost of securing your own pre-departure test. As a result, UFC will no longer provide at-home testing kits. Recent reports in the media that athletes will be forced to bear the costs of ‘COVID testing’ are incorrect and irresponsible.”

The UFC previously shipped out testing kits to athletes prior to departure from their home cities for fight week. UFC officials told MMA Junkie that as low-cost testing has become widely available around the globe, it became easier to allow athletes to handle their own testing in their local markets, with the promotion reimbursing the minimal out-of-pocket costs.

The document further clarified that nothing will change in relation to the testing that is currently done onsite during fight week, whether it be in Las Vegas or elsewhere, but would instead keep the same protocol that the company has used since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, there are no plans to change UFC’s current COVID-19 testing program during fight week, which requires all athletes and corners to undergo testing twice (2X) prior to participating in their scheduled event,” Campbell stated. “These fight week tests will continue to be provided at no cost to you.

“UFC is very proud of its industry leading COVID-19 testing program, which has produced the lowest positivity rate in all of sports, and which has allowed us to continue to hold events and to provide opportunities for you to continue to compete.”

Veteran journalist Ariel Helwani, who initially reported that fighters and corners would be covering the cost of their tests, took exception to the new memo’s description of his initial report. However, UFC officials insisted to MMA Junkie that fighters and corners were never expected to take on the costs of testing under the new policy.

Absolutely nothing “irresponsible” or “inaccurate” about my report yesterday. I think proves that. I have physical proof of the then-change in policy. Alas, glad fighters don’t have to pay out of pocket anymore.

— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 15, 2021

The new policy is effective beginning with this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 199 event, which takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streams live on ESPN+. Heavyweights Derrick Lewis (25-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) and Chris Daukaus (12-3 MMA, 4-0 UFC) meet in the night’s main event.


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