UFC 249 color commentator Joe Rogan interviewed fighters in the Octagon on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, a departure from the previously declared UFC protocol in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The card, which took place in front of no fans at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, started with a preliminary heavyweight fight Sam Alvey and Ryan Spann. After Spann's split decision victory, he was interviewed in the octagon by Rogan.
Rogan conducted the Octagon interviews in the same style immediately after the second and third fights.
Earlier this week, Craig Borsari, UFC's executive vice president of operations and production, told ESPN that no Octagon post-fight interviews would take place at UFC 249. The plan as of Tuesday was for the winning fighter to be escorted from the cage after the fight to an isolated area where he or she would receive a sanitized headset for a remote interview with Rogan.
On Saturday, Rogan conducted the interview next to Spann inside the cage and a gloved Rogan shook Spann's hand. Outside the octagon, many, but not all, personnel wore protective masks. Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer wore a mask on the cage and removed it to read introductions and results while inside the octagon.
"It's nothing strange," said Spann when asked by Rogan about fighting without an audience. "I was at & # 39; The Contender [Series]& # 39; twice, so I'm fine. I don't like people – I like people. I don't like it one bit. But it's alright. It was nothing; as I said, I was on & # 39; The Contender & # 39; twice, so I'm ready for that. "
A UFC request for comment was not immediately returned on Saturday night.
Rogan had expressed his discontent with some of the UFC's security guidelines in his podcast on Friday.
"We will be in an empty arena, no one will be anywhere near me," said Rogan. "Everyone has to be very far from each other. We will be in separate corners of the octagon, which sucks.
"We are all tested. This is what makes no sense. We are not all healthy and well, we are tested. We are clean. We are not. We don't need to be far apart from each other, I was tested. [Thursday]. I received the results of my cotton swab on my nose, this is negative. And then, two days before, I did an antibody test, and that is also negative. I'm 100% negative ".
Rogan and the other two members of the UFC broadcast team, Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier, were sitting at separate tables from each other on Saturday night.
Borsari said Tuesday that everyone involved in the event will be tested for COVID-19. On Friday, the UFC announced that Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was taken from his scheduled fight against Uriah Hall at UFC 249 after he tested positive for coronavirus. Two of the people at Souza's corner also tested positive for COVID-19. The three were evacuated from the hotel and were said to be "self-isolating outside the facility," according to a UFC statement.