UFC informs fighters US government dropping the vaccine mandate hammer down on entrance in the country

ufc, vaccine mandate
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

A whole bunch of foreign fighters on the UFC roster will need to soon decide if they want to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not fight in the US.

In a memo obtained by MMAJunkie on Tuesday, UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell informed the roster that new policy from the federal government has mandated that fighters residing outside the US will need to have at least one WHO-approved COVID vaccine shot if they plan to enter the country after Nov. 8.

As well as needing at least one shot, athletes looking to compete on a card in the US will also need a negative COVID test, and the new guidelines apply to fighters living in Canada and Mexico also.

UFC official informs roster on vaccine mandates for travel into US

“Foreign national air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States,” Campbell wrote. “Fully vaccinated travelers will also be required to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding their flight. This policy also applies to foreign nationals crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico or arriving in the United States by passenger ferry.”

While many organizations and federal agencies around the country have mandated vaccinations for employees, UFC President Dana White has been adamant since the summer that he would not require his independently contracted fighters to be vaccinated to compete in the Octagon.

“I would never tell another human being what to do with their body. If you want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you,” White told TSN in August [h/t Yahoo]. “That’s your choice. You’re never gonna hear me say I’m gonna force people to get vaccinated. Never gonna happen.”

Campbell shared that same sentiment in his memo to the roster.

ufc, vaccine mandate
May 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; General view of the empty octagon before UFC Fight Night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“To be clear, this is NOT a UFC policy. UFC is not requiring you to get vaccinated. We are simply communicating the new guidelines recently announced by the U.S. government,” he wrote.

UFC CBO suggests fighters can try to enter US before guidelines go into effect

There is still time before the new guidelines take effect. Meaning if fighters were unwavering in their preference to not be vaccinated, they have the opportunity to uproot from their current living situations and enter the country before Nov. 8.

“You should consider your options, such as traveling to the United States before this new U.S. government policy takes effect, or if you choose, make arrangements to take the appropriate vaccination,” Campbell wrote.

The promotion currently has fighters booked as far out as Feb. 26, 2022. Many future cards from December on have not yet confirmed their locations. Bellator will be promoting international cards over the next few weeks in Russian and Ireland. Showing that major American fight promotions have the means to accommodate international fighters by delivering cards in various countries abroad.

The UFC also has the option of making “Fight Island” on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi a consistent destination once again like it was in 2020 before vaccinations were available.

It will certainly be interesting how the promotion goes about keeping their full slate of upcoming events and maintaining the expectations of their TV partners. Most notably Disney-owned ESPN.

If you were an athlete on the UFC roster, what would you do? Get the jab or risk waiting for international cards?

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