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Deiveson Figueiredo tests positive for COVID-19, title rematch with Joseph Benavidez in jeopardy – MMA Fighting
The Brazilian title challenger has failed a pre-fight test for COVID-19, and his team is trying to get him cleared for a rematch with Joseph Benavidez on July 18.
Deiveson Figueiredo has failed a pre-fight COVID-19 test, and his title rematch with Joseph Benavidez may be in jeopardy.
Figueiredos manager, Wallid Ismail, on Friday told MMA Fighting the Brazilian flyweight title challenger was due to fly to Abu Dhabi from Sao Paulo, one of three hub cities the UFC has designated for fighters traveling to Fight Island, for the July 18 fight at Yas Island. As part of the trip, Figueiredo was tested for COVID-19, and he failed the test, preventing him from getting on the plane.
Ismail said Figueiredo tested positive for the virus two months ago after suffering from symptoms of the virus. But he denied the fighter was still infected and blamed the test for a positive result. He added Figueiredos corners also tested negative for COVID-19 and said the fighter will be tested again with the hopes of boarding another plane to Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
He couldnt have tested positive because he had COVID two months ago, Ismail said.
Word of Figueiredos positive test was first reported by Combate. A UFC rep told MMA Fighting the promotion is looking into the matter and declined further comment.
The CDC and WHO still are uncertain on whether a person previously infected with COVID-19 is totally immune to future infections. In May, WHO doctor Maria Van Kerkhove told the BBC that the agency has seen previously infected persons whove previously tested negative then test positive several weeks later. She attributed the phenomenon to the healing process of the lungs as it eliminated dead cells.
Theres fragments of those lungs that are testing positive for PCR, she said. Its not infectious virus. Its not the infection. Its not reactivation. Its actually part of the healing process.
Three types of COVID-19 tests are currently in widespread use: PCR, which looks for the genetic material of the coronavirus; antibody, which looks whether a person has previously been infected, and antigen, which looks for active infection. Its not known what type of COVID-19 test Figueiredo took that produced the positive. In a UFC press release that touted Fight Island safety protocols, it noted the promotion expected to perform approximately 3,300 pre-departure and on-site COVID-19 antigen tests for UFC athletes and event personnel.
Tests performed in Sao Paulo included a nasal swab, which typically signifies a PCR test, and a throat swab, which takes the saliva needed for an antigen test.
In an interview with MMA Fighting on Wednesday, Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist previously critical of the UFCs testing protocols, said the promotion would be more effective using PCR tests, as antigen tests often cause false positives.
If confirmed positive and ruled out of the fight, Figueiredo would suffer another devastating career setback. Prior to his first meeting with Benavidez in February, which ended in a brutal knockout win, he failed to make weight and was ruled ineligible to win a title left vacant by former two-division champ Henry Cejudo.
Despite his most recent setback, Figueiredo has won his past three fights, finishing two of three.
As MMA Fighting previously reported, Alexandre Pantoja said he is on board as a backup fighter should either fighter be ruled out of the July 18 event.
Pelicans’ Zion Williamson says he spent quarantine period relearning fundamentals from ‘square one’ – ESPN
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said Friday he felt like he “was 5 years old again” working out with his stepfather during quarantine. According to coach Alvin Gentry, the rookie “did a lot to improve his game,” including making strides in his shooting.
For New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, the time he spent in quarantine made him feel like a kid.
To get ready for the NBA season, Williamson said he worked out with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, when he wasn’t rehabbing with Pelicans staffers. Williamson, 20, cherished that time as he tried to to stay as basketball-ready as possible.
“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson “looked great” as the team returned to full practice for the first time in four months on Friday afternoon near Orlando, Florida. Gentry also credited Anderson for the work he did with Williamson while the Pelicans were away from each other amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“His stepfather did a fantastic job of working him out every day, of making him be in good conditioning when we got him back,” Gentry said. “He’s made a lot of strides in his shooting, I think. Although we weren’t together, he did a lot to improve his game.”
In his first NBA game Jan. 22, Williamson went on a scoring barrage in the fourth quarter when he went 4-for-4 from 3-point range, bringing the Smoothie King Center to its feet. But in the 18 games that followed, Williamson went just 2-for-9 from deep.
A glance at Williamson’s shot chart shows that he has been dominant around the rim and hasn’t done much of anything in the midrange. Could that be changing as the NBA season restarts?
“Yeah, I think there are going to be parts of my game that you didn’t see before that you’ll see when we start playing,” Williamson said.
Gentry, 65, received word from the NBA on Wednesday that he was cleared to participate in the resumption of the season. There was doubt as to whether Gentry would be held out, but after a review and array of tests, he was cleared to coach in Florida.
“As I said, it’s been tough on everyone,” Gentry said. “I wish it could have been done sooner. I wish everything would have been decided sooner. It wasn’t, but I’m here. That was my ultimate goal, is to be here and coach my team, and that’s where I am right now.”
If Gentry hadn’t been permitted to go, he would have been the third Pelicans coach who didn’t make the trip. Associate head coach of defense Jeff Bzdelik and assistant coach Jamelle McMillan stayed back — Bzdelik, 67, on the advice of team physicians and McMillan to stay with his newborn son.
Gentry said that although Bzdelik won’t be present, he’ll still be involved in the team’s defensive strategy.
“It may be from afar, but he’s going to be involved in every practice,” Gentry said. “He’s going to be involved in every game. He’ll be involved in every game-plan situation. He’s not here from a physical standpoint, but he will still be involved in everything that we do down here.”
Still, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday said it will be an adjustment not having Bzdelik and McMillan on the bench.
“I think for the most part, especially towards the beginning of this quarantine, toward the end when we were stopping, we started to get into a groove defensively,” Holiday said. “I’ll tell you I feel like we tried to pick it back up. But being here
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