UFC is one of the few sports that is being televised that I think is almost as exciting without the crowd as it is with it. The only thing we really miss is the eventual comment that Joe Rogan will always make about how loud it is in the arena. Other than that, the fights are probably less exciting for the fighters, but for us watching at home the experience is largely the same.
They have pretty strict regulations regarding the fights and the events in order to make them happen and of course this has everything to do with our good friend Covid-19. UFC doesn't talk about it a great deal but when Daniel Cormier had to bow out of his upcoming fight in Vegas 11 due to testing positive, it wasn't going to be something they could possibly keep a secret.
Dana White made a promise way back when to be the first sports organization to hold events again and while he was almost correct in that prediction, it was actually a fake sport that got there first in the way of WWE. As a matter of fact, WWE may have actually paved the way for UFC to be allowed in Florida, and later, other places in the USA and abroad. There are a ton of regulations though and of course one of those things is extensive testing of athletes, trainers, cornermen, officials, and well, everyone.
At the very first live pay-per-view events Ronaldo Souza and a few of his team tested positive and this resulted in him being pulled from the card at a very late stage in the game. Thankfully, this became increasingly rare for people to test positive.
Rose Namajunas elected to withdraw from UFC 249 after claiming that she had lost several family members to the virus. She faced a lot of harsh criticism with her announcement because her claims could not be verified and she made no attempt to do so (if this has changed since then my apologies, I don't really care enough to verify it.)
There was speculation that Rose was unprepared for the event due to her own fear of Covid and that she was not training to the standards necessary to compete at the highest level and was hiding away in her house due not to family deaths, but due to her own fears.
A number of fighters tested positive for the virus, only to test negative on a subsequent test, sometimes even multiple subsequent tests yet the precautionary rules that vary from state to state (for USA, of course) prevented them from competing. This was also true for people who had a member of their team test positive, even though the fighter themselves were negative. This kind of goes to show the talk I read about on Deep Dives about how the test itself is flawed, and the results depend very heavily on the person / lab who is testing it.
Fighters affected by this and that had their fights taken away from them include Deiveson Figueiredo, Marina Rodriguez (team member tested positive, but not her,) Ramiz Brahimaj (team member,) Matt Frevola (false positive,) Ian Heinisch (false positive, overturned, ended up competing,) Kevin Natividad (tested negative multiple times, still not allowed to fight,) and the upcoming Santos v. Teixeira fight was abandoned after both of them tested positive at different intervals.
For all of these fighters and many more, none of those involved reported feeling even remotely sick other than Cormier and he attributes his suspicion of having the virus to his high tech ring he was wearing that gave him up to the minute health information. The others were surprised to find out they were positive. This makes me go "hmmmmmm" because I am already questioning the validity of the testing, and the virus in general... but I'll leave that discussion for people who follow that sort of information a lot closer.
Daniel Cormier is probably the most high-profile fighter to test positive thus far. But he followed through with his training in his garage (which was allowed I am assuming) and spent a lot of his own money on continual testing for all of those who were involved with the process. He said in the interview that he is "not using his limited training and positive test result as an excuse for losing to Miocic in August, but to a lot of us fight fans it certainly sounds that way.
The 41-year old D.C. retired following the loss on August 15th. To me the interview about testing positive wasn't just an excuse for losing, but likely also a paid advertisement for the high-tech ring that Cormier states helped him know to get tested, which he plugged by name multiple times in this, and several other interviews.