While professional sports leagues such as the NHL continue to move forward with training camps for 2021 despite a wave of coronavirus cases, UFC fighters like featherweight T.J. Laramie are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the American sports promotion company that took the shortest layoff of any professional league during the pandemic, has seen incredibly low rates of positive COVID-19 cases despite their large roster, especially in comparison with other sports.
The mixed martial arts organization not only uses one of the strictest drug testing programs on Earth (USADA), they also test their fighters for the coronavirus incredibly frequently, including quarantining in the weeks leading up to fights. UFC president Dana White has seemingly been as transparent as possible regarding the frequency and seriousness of their testing, with reports saying the company has spent nearly $20 million on testing.
Nevertheless, Canadian fighters like Laramie are forced to train in secret to avoid lockdown restrictions, despite being some of the healthiest athletes around.
"Mixed martial arts, the UFC specifically, is the only major sport that isn't exempt, unlike players in the NBA or NHL," Laramie told Rebel News.
In Laramie's personal opinion, lockdown measures aren't seeking to keep the population healthy, and the Windsor native advocates for opening businesses, with mask requirements in place.
For now, Laramie must train in secret with other fighters, while Canadian fight promotions have suffered mightily during lockdowns, due to having far fewer resources than the UFC.