Paulo Costa suffered the most publicized case of staph infection among fighters on or scheduled to appear on the UFC 294 card on Saturday at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. However, he wasn’t the only one, even if he wasn’t allowed to fight.
Viktoriia Dudakova and Mike Breeden admitted after their fight and victory over Jinh Yu Frey and Anshul Jubli that they were battling staph infections. Dudakova won a unanimous decision over Frey with a score of 29-28 on all cards. Breeden rallied in the third round and brutally knocked out Jubli after talking nonsense to him in the final round.
However, both battled staph infections. Dudakova, who gained 0.6 pounds, said she fainted during the weight-cutting process.
Dudakova described a particularly difficult situation at her post-fight press conference.
“I’m glad I was able to fight standing up this time,” she said. “I have to tell you, this time I couldn’t wrestle, and let me explain why: I had a staph infection last month. My butt, my butt, is completely bloody at the moment. I have staph infections in places that are not necessarily okay to announce to the world.
The ring doctors were angry with her after the fight because she didn’t disclose it during her pre-fight exam. She said she didn’t do it because she knew she would be pulled.
“They examined me after the fight and asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell us before?'” she said. “[They said] “Because we should have taken you out of the fight,” and I didn’t want to be taken out of the fight. And I didn’t do that [take] Antibiotics because we would know if I did [take] I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath in the Octagon on antibiotics.”
Victoria Dudakova talks about a horrific staphylococcal infection that plagued her #UFC294 performance and contributed to their lack of weight.
“My butt is completely covered in blood at the moment. I have a staph infection in places that aren’t necessarily allowed to be shared with the whole world.” pic.twitter.com/i7UpDicHZF
— MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) October 21, 2023
A staph infection can be contagious and dangerous to other fighters, and so her decision not to inform the UFC and doctors saved her from being pulled but put others in danger.
She also admitted that she had fainted while lying in the tub during her weight loss journey, which increased her risk.
“I passed out in the tub and they brought me back to life,” she said.
Breeden also said he had staph. He also lost weight and appeared to have a cut above his left eye early in the fight. He was two laps behind, but caught up in the third lap and knocked Jubli unconscious. He went viral for swearing at him for most of the final round.
He later admitted that he had a case of staph, which he preferred not to reveal. This is an issue that the UFC must address as it creates potentially unsafe conditions for fighters and others entering the Octagon.