Fighters deal with adversity all the time.
From last minute opponent changes to weight-cutting disasters, athletes competing in MMA are uniquely suited to deal with unexpected twists that might throw other athletes off their game.
The past few weeks have presented some unique hurdles. As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the United States with 300,000 people infected and almost 8,500 deaths, state governors across the U.S. have ordered lockdowns with many businesses – including MMA gyms.
UFC 249 fighter Sijara Eubanks found out the hard way when she received notice that her New Jersey training facility had been closed to comply with a governor’s executive order. She’s currently preparing to compete on April 18, but despite the shutdown happening all around her, she’s determined to stay ready.
“It didn’t get crazy for me until they closed the gyms,” Eubanks told MMA Fighting. “We’re just dealing with that, moving some things around, trying to find some places where we can get our sparring in for the week. Taking it day by day, for real.”
In San Diego, Jeremy Stephens is preparing to fight at that same event.
The the 33-year-old featherweight and veteran with 46 fights has seen it all – and done even more – during his career. But his past experience couldn’t prepare him for training during a pandemic. It’s an unprecedented situation that’s forced him to make a lot of changes to his workout routine as he gets ready to face Calvin Kattar.
“The panic is getting out there a lot more, and this is something serious that you have to take precautions,” Stephens said. “I just get creative with my training. I can be doing swims individually, or with one other person. I can be doing sprints. I don’t need a whole lot.
“If anybody broke into my house right now, no warming up, no stretching, I would just murk them. That’s got to be the mindset. Just doing the best for myself everyday, day by day and that’s that.”
While no fighters have publicly stated that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, the virus has definitely hit close to home for some of the athletes getting ready for upcoming fights.