The Jamaica, Queens, native, who sat down with this paper nearly two years ago to share his story, was primed for one of the biggest opportunities of his mixed martial arts career this past Saturday evening, when the UFC became the first major American sports promotion to put on live sports during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hall was to be part of the stacked UFC 249 card against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in a bout to be featured as one of many leading up to the eventual double main event featuring a pair of UFC world title bouts.
The UFC attempted to proceed with the event in April before being told to stand down by ESPN executives, only to put 249 together weeks later in Jacksonville, Florida, in front of no live audience.
Souza, who is 26-8 after losing back-to-back bouts leading up to 249, is originally from Brazil and currently lives and trains in Florida. He drove to Jacksonville on Wednesday and had notified the UFC of a family member testing positive with COVID-19.
Hall says he was preparing for the worst regardless of the positive test.
“Devastation would be an understatement of how I feel,” Hall wrote on his Instagram page. “As crazy as these times are, we can’t forget that our health is much more important. I’m thankful that this was caught before it happened.
“To be honest I was prepared to die, that’s how hard I have trained, locking myself into a gym complete isolation mastering myself and my demons,” he added.
“The Florida State Athletic Commission has planned for the upcoming UFC series of matches with the welfare and safety of fighters and participants remaining the principal focus and priority,” a statement read. “As planned, health and safety protocols have been followed and will continue to be paramount.”
White added at the presser that other leagues have been contacting him as they also attempt to figure out how to resume professional sports.