Prominent MMA coaches Henri Hooft and Greg Jones will serve a three-month suspension for breaching COVID-19 protocol at the Bellator 253 event. The Mohegan Tribe Athletic Department of Athletic Regulation head director Mike Mazzulli released this statement according to MMA Junkie from USA Today.
“It’s erroneous (and) disrespectful to Bellator and the industry in general,” Mazzulli told MMA Junkie immediately following the conclusion of the Bellator 253 news conference. ”I don’t care who you are when it comes to a trainer. I wouldn’t expect Randy Couture (to break protocol). I wouldn’t expect (anybody) to do this. It’s a public health issue. They were wrong and that’s what they get.”
In addition to the suspension handed out, Jason Jackson, who is coached by Hooft and Jones, received a $1,000 fine for the breach. The fine will be split into $500 per coach who participated in the incident. Hooft and Jones committed the act on Tuesday when they entered Jackson’s hotel room to hit pads and perform training duties during the quarantine period while awaiting results of COVID-19 testing. Mazzulli assured that the coaches will pay the fine, where they will pay back Jackson. Jackson defeated Benson Henderson at Bellator 253 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut last night. Mazzulli found a video of the incident on social media and addressed further concerns when asked about the violation by ESPN.
“It’s not just about fighter safety,” Mazzulli told ESPN. “It’s about public safety. The only reason Mr. Jackson was able to fight is because both [coaches] came back negative [for the coronavirus].”
Mazzulli also stated that the three involved in the violation passed their COVID-19 tests where the fight between Jackson and Henderson would still be held as the co-main event. Mazzulli appreciated the cooperation of the three parties concerning the punishment as they accepted full responsibility for the infraction.
However, Hooft and Jones’ actions could change the trajectory of an upcoming UFC event if the Nevada State Athletic Commission or another commission takes the same action as the Athletic Regulation in Connecticut. Should other teams commit the same violation or worse, that punishment could be harsher as the pandemic continues?