The UFC has finally been hit by the coronavirus — or, at least, we’ve finally found out.
Amid the talks of Fight Island, closed-door events on Native American territory, and booking weekly cards to give fight fans the blood for which they lust, Lyman Good, a welterweight from Harlem, N.Y., has tested positive for COVID-19. According to Good, the positive test came in March, yet, we’re just hearing about this now.
Good, along with his girlfriend, Elena Bulgor, and one of his coaches, an instructor at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA, all came up positive for the coronavirus after visiting a drive-through testing center. Good himself finally disclosed the results during a live interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
With Good — who was slated to face Belal Muhammad at UFC 249 on April 18 in Brooklyn — publicly announcing his positive test, and subsequent recovery, it’s important to question why the news has only come out now. Was this some sort of a cover up? Was there an attempt to keep this news quiet while the UFC figured out how to book its upcoming events on Fight Island? Or was Good downplaying the severity of his “injury” in hopes of getting another fight booked soon?
At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any collusion on the part of the UFC. However, it’s impossible to not connect the dots from Good, who is already looking to return to action, to the coronavirus, to Fight Island. So why the mystery?
Why did it take close to three weeks for this to become public knowledge, especially after Good withdrew from his UFC 249 bout on April 4, citing an injury? Sure, he was not included on the revamped UFC 249 fight card that was announced on April 6, only to be cancelled a few days later, but why did Good announce that he was injured, when in fact, he’d tested positive for COVID-19?
There is no simple answer to these questions, but it further complicates the public perception of the UFC, as the world’s leading MMA promotion makes plans to get its fighters back inside the Octagon for a May 9 super card.
Now, in addition to all the public scrutiny that UFC President Dana White will receive for attempting to promote fights during this epidemic, we can now add an increased public audit of the next UFC event, given that Good not only tested positive, but how it was then kept quiet for weeks. All around, it’s not a good look.
When injury concerns surround a big-time bout, the organization will bring in its own doctors for a second opinion. But for this type of undercard fight, guys withdraw all the time, often without even disclosing a specific ailment.
It’s unlikely Good could have completely duped the UFC’s medical staff and snuck onto Fight Island, or its many charter flights, with a case of the coronavirus. The UFC’s medical team is too sophisticated for such things.
Even without a state athletic commission in place, the UFC has an experienced medical team that is trained to handle the demands of combat sports athletes. They also have the resources and connections to obtain the necessary COVID-19 tests.
And, even if White can’t negotiate testing kits directly from President Trump when they meet to discuss how to reopen the American economy, there’s always UFC commentator/comedian/podcast guru Joe Rogan, who has already admitted to taking, and passing, two tests, albeit the lesser proven coronavirus antibody tests, which differ from the more reliable nasal swabbing tests.
Ultimately, Good is just another professional athlete to contract COVID-19. But unlike Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Kevin Durant, Good’s case may be met with added public scrutiny, given his participation in a sport that is trying its hardest to return to action before we all know the full impact of the current global pandemic.