There was really no way the UFC, with over 500 contracted athletes and a small army of employees, was going to avoid the coronavirus pandemic completely. And it hasn’t. On Monday, UFC welterweight Lyman Good revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), the illness that results from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.
Luckily, he is now in the clear. But his tale is a reminder of how easily the virus can be spread.
Good (21-5, 1NC), a former Bellator MMA champion, had been scheduled to fight at UFC 249 this month — an event that went through a chaotic relocation attempt before finally being cancelled. The expectation originally was that he would face Belal Muhammad on the card, initially scheduled for Brooklyn, New York on April 18.
Instead, Good withdrew due to injury — but speaking to ESPN on Monday, he let it be known that the real reason was COVID-19.
“I knew something was up,” Good said of the situation. “I know my body. I’ve been through it all. I’ve been through a lot of injuries and a lot of other things. But this was different.”
Good was not the only one to have contracted the disease, which was diagnosed via a drive-through testing center in New Jersey. His girlfriend and one of his coaches also received positive tests. Luckily, other teammates including fellow UFC fighter Shane Burgos did not.
“As soon as I found out, I let everybody know,” said Good. “It was one of those things where it wasn’t sinking in that it could’ve been that. As fighters, we’re hardwired to train through everything. If we catch a cold or little nagging injuries here or there, we’re trained to just pretty much fight through it. At first I thought it was that. But there was just one day where it was bad. My body wasn’t listening, it wasn’t responding the way it normally does to sparring.”
Professional athletes are probably better suited that most to combat an infection, given they’re generally in tip-top shape. Still, Good had about a week of what he considered bad symptoms. His biggest concern, however, was those around him.
“My real concern was really just my teammates, my coaches and anyone I was exposed to,” Good said. “God forbid they get it, they spread it, and someone else gets sick really bad. I would feel responsible.”
With that in mind, the Tiger Schulmann fighter is trying to give back. Last week, he went to get tested again, so that he could donate antibodies to the Red Cross. “Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t surviving this thing,” Good explained. “I want to take this negative and try to turn it into a positive.”
He’s also keeping a positive outlook himself. In fact, part of the reason Good chose not to make his diagnosis public initially was so not to “feed into the fear, the imminent fear going on in society now.”
Instead, Good feels that “I was fortunate enough to beat it. Now, let’s get through this, let’s stay connected. Stay positive. We’ll get past it, there’s better times on the way.”