As part of the UFC’s handling of the UFC 249 card, it was reported Saturday a liability waiver was presented to all fighters and participants involved with the event – including members of the media to sign ahead of time.
The existence of such a waiver was noted ahead of the show by Stephen Espinoza of Showtime Sports with further reporting by ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, the New York Times, and Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. The full text of the clause was obtained by several people with the following language in ESPN’s report:
The Participant shall not, and shall cause its affiliates, agents and representatives not to, defame or disparage any of the Released Parties in any medium whatsoever in connection with the Activities. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Participant will not suggest or communicate to any person or entity that the Activities have been or will be held without appropriate health, safety or other precautions, whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise.
If the Participant is a Fighter, the Participant hereby acknowledges and agrees that in the event that the Participant breaches this Paragraph 7, the Company may revoke all or any part of any prize monies or awards won by the Participant in connection with the Activities, including, but not limited to, purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties.
UFC president Dana White responded to Iole ahead of UFC 249 and called it a ‘non-disparagement clause’ and stated the following:
If a fighter says something that isn’t true — if he says we didn’t test anyone for this — that would [violate the agreement]. But if he said something that was true, his opinion, then that is different.
The New York Times reported that “Nothing in the agreement obtained by The Times said that only untrue statements can be punished”.
Marc Raimondi of ESPN added that media members were also asked to sign this waiver. This brings about another series of questions regarding the interpretation of the waiver and how transparent media could be in reporting on the health and safety aspect of the show. It was not stated if media, fighters, or others asked to sign the waiver were made aware prior to arriving in Jacksonville, Florida for the card this week.
During the post-fight press conference, White was asked about the waiver and reiterated that it was regarding make false statements about the health and safety measures.
The waiver also covers any liability on the UFC if anyone is to contract the coronavirus with the following posted in Yahoo Sports’ report:
The Participant fully understands and agrees that the Participant’s preparation for, travel for, lodging, attendance at, contact with and consumption or use of, food, beverages and other consumables at, participation and appearance in and/or provision of services or personnel for the Activities (collectively, the “Covered Matters”) may lead to exposure to COVID-19 and that contraction of COVID-19 may result in severe and permanent damage to the health of the Participant and/or others, including, but not limited to, death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses, which may or may not be covered by insurance, cleaning expenses, mandatory self-quarantine, loss of licenses and similar approvals by any regulatory or self-regulatory body to which the Participant or any of the Releasing Parties (as defined below) is subject, investigation and/or prosecution by civil, criminal or other regulatory authorities and other harms and lost opportunities, whether economic, reputational or otherwise (collectively, the “Harms”)