While speaking on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1-0) revealed that he was hospitalized with pneumonia while battling COVID-19 after he tested positive for the virus on March 19.
He had been scheduled to defend his title versus Brian Ortega on March 27 but had the fight scrapped due to his positive result.
"I'm a UFC champion, a fit human being ... and look what it still did to me," the 32-year-old said. "If I had underlying problems, this could have got really, really serious.
"It was a bit of a shock to me."
Volkanovski explained that he first dealt with headaches, a fever, night sweats and body aches before his condition worsened. "But then it started getting a little more serious," he said. "My lungs started hurting a little bit. It started hurting to breathe. We started really wanting to pay attention to everything when my phlegm started coming up pink with little specks of blood."
Initial scans showed Volkanovski had acceptable oxygen levels, but he returned to the hospital a few days later complaining of serious pain in his lungs while consistently spitting up blood. "That's when the doctors ended up doing another scan, and that's when we found out the infection got worse," he added. "It spread through the lungs, and they told me 'You're going to have to stay in the hospital for a few days and get on some medication.'"
Volkanovski has improved but is still taking medication, and he says he doesn't know how he contracted the coronavirus. He and Ortega will be coaches for the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and will fight at some point after the series airs this year.