Ian Heinisch won his bout via finish Saturday night at UFC 250 in Las Vegas, but it was a interesting few days for the middleweight fighter. In his postfight interview at the UFC Apex, Heinisch said one of his cornermen had a false positive for the coronavirus, which nearly cost him the opportunity of competing on the card.
The situation happened Thursday, when the cornerman had an "indeterminate" COVID-19 test result, sources told ESPN. Heinisch at one point was considered out of the scheduled bout against Gerald Meerschaert because of his contact with the cornerman, and a source said that Heinisch's entire team was required to quarantine and self-isolate because of the inconclusive result.
"We were pulled off the card on Thursday for about five hours," Heinisch told ESPN's Brett Okamoto after the fight. "I had to turn my phone off. It was wild. For a false positive and inconclusive test. The UFC dealt with it very well. I'm just so grateful to be back on [this] card."
The UFC, which has implemented contact tracing as part of its COVID-19 protocols, had signed a potential replacement, Anthony Ivy, to fight Meerschaert if Heinisch had been ruled out.
Heinisch's cornerman was tested again twice Thursday afternoon to double-check the result, sources said. Heinisch never stopped training and cutting weight for the bout, his manager, Jason House, told ESPN. On Thursday night, the most recent tests came back and the cornerman was negative in both for COVID-19, sources said.
Heinisch weighed in successfully Friday morning, and Ivy, who was not needed, will fight on a UFC card in the near future.
Because of the contact tracing, Heinisch said other fighters on the card were in danger of being pulled and his team begged the UFC to test his cornerman again, because they were confident he did not have COVID-19.
"It was one of the longest five hours of my life," Heinisch said. "I couldn't watch a movie. I just felt so anxious. Coach was like, let's go hit some pads and listen to some reggae and lay on the mats. We just did that."
Heinisch defeated Meerschaert by TKO at 1 minute, 14 seconds of the first round Saturday after landing a big overhand right that dropped him. Heinisch, who has been open about his past prison stint for drug trafficking, said the adversity never affected him. In fact, he said, it was the opposite.
"Being in prison, being locked up," Heinisch said in his postfight interview. "This week, a cornerman testing positive -- a false positive -- this is where I thrive."
The UFC tested everyone involved with the UFC 250 event Wednesday when all the personnel arrived at the host hotel. The Nevada State Athletic Commission tested all personnel again -- including media -- some on Friday morning and some on Saturday morning.