The new travel policy against the COVID-19 vaccine imposed by the U.S. government could pose problems for UFC fighters based in Russia.
The White House issued an order last week asking all travelers to be tested for full vaccination to enter the United States as of November 8, 2021. Travelers must be inoculated with one of seven vaccines. COVID-19 approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, a recent delay in approving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine means that Russian UFC fighters may not be able to enter the US even if they have been vaccinated.
Despite being the first COVID-19 vaccine registered and its approved use in dozens of countries, Sputnik V continues to struggle for full WHO approval. In July 2021, the WHO revealed that it found some problems with filling Sputnik V vials at a plant in Russia, which added to the delay. Since then, the manufacturer has claimed to have addressed all WHO concerns and that WHO inspectors will have to visit Russia shortly “to gather all necessary inspections and formalities at Sputnik V.”
There is currently no vaccine in Russia other than Sputnik that is publicly available.
With limited options to enter the United States, Russian fighters will likely compete in countries with less restrictive regulations. According to UFC President Dana White, this place will likely be “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
“I think‘ Fight Island ’will jump again,” White told reporters when asked about the new regulations. “Yes, we want to do more events [there]. I’m going to Abu Dhabi [within a week], so I have a lot of meetings out there. “
It is worth noting that UFC 267, which takes place on October 30 at the Etihad Stadium in Abu Dhabi, will feature nine fighters from the Russian Federation, including Chechen fighters Khamzat Chimaev, Albert Duraev and Zubaira Tukhugov, as well. such as that of Dagestan Magomed Mustafaev and Tagir Ulanbekov.
However, beyond UFC 267, the organization has no other international events planned for the foreseeable future.