UFC on ESPN 11 cornerman Billy Quarantillo discusses positive COVID-19 test, 40-hour drive home

Billy Quarantillo wasn’t scheduled to fight at UFC on ESPN 11, but he made headlines during the event’s leadup due to his positive COVID-19 test as a cornerman for Matt Frevola.

Tuesday, Quarantillo (14-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was finally back in Florida and in self-quarantine after a long journey home. The past week was a rollercoaster and something Quarantillo said he will never forget.

“It’s definitely been one of the most interesting experiences of my life,” Quarantillo told MMA Junkie on Tuesday, in his first interview since the positive test. “I’m sure (it’s been) for Matt Frevola, too. We both kind of went through it this past week. I feel completely healthy. I’m obviously really discouraged Matt wasn’t able to fight but it was out of our hands (and) it was out of the UFC’s hands.”

Quarantillo, 31, was slated as the cornerman for his friend and training partner Frevola, who was scheduled to fight Frank Camacho in a lightweight bout at UFC on ESPN 11. Upon getting the UFC’s fight week arrival swab, Quarantillo tested positive. Quarantillo and Frevola were required to self-quarantine in separate rooms. Frevola tested negative for the swab, but positive for an antibody test.

Health officials told Quarantillo not to panic because false positives were not uncommon. However, a second test displayed the same result. As a result, the UFC canceled Frevola’s fight – largely for precautionary reasons, according to Quarantillo.

“I really just felt bad for Matt at that point,” Quarantillo said. “After they said I tested positive, I just kind of thought about the people I was in contact for the last few days. I just had to tell them right away (and) tell my coach and everything even though I wasn’t in the gym that much.”

It didn’t take much for Frevola to forgive Quarantillo. The two are close friends and had a conversation about the situation. They were quickly on the same page, despite the disappointment.

“We talked about it,” Quarantillo said. “Me and Matt talked about it. I felt bad it had to be me that got him removed from the fight, but I’m pretty sure the UFC is going to take care of him. Not only that, (but) he (also) didn’t get any injuries. He’s completely healthy. He was like seven pounds away from the weight cut.”

As if a positive COVID-19 test wasn’t bad enough, Quarantillo was cornered into an uncomfortable position when the fight was called off. Considered a flight risk by the Nevada Athletic Commission, Quarantillo was not allowed to fly home to Florida – neither was Frevola.

Instead, Quarantillo and Frevola were given two options: either drive home by car or stay in Las Vegas in an Air BnB for two weeks on the UFC’s dime.

They chose the former. In total, it was a 40-hour trip to Florida.

“For me, it was a pretty easy decision,” Quarantillo said. “It wasn’t fun to do – to drive back. We basically just drove the whole way through, but it was better than staying there for two weeks. … It was supposed to take 35 hours, but stopping for gas and stuff, it probably took like 40 hours.

“Me and Matt are still cool,” Quarantillo laughed. “We didn’t kill each other.”

Quarantillo is still asymptomatic. He isn’t quite sure how the virus entered his system. His friends and family have all since tested negative, so he assumes he got it during travel to the event. As for what’s next, Quarantillo thinks both he and Frevola are looking at August returns – pending negative tests.

“I think they’re looking for August for him and even August for me, too,” Qurantillo said. “I think we’re going to be good to go… The health department and the UFC basically said the same thing, ‘Just isolate yourself, get a negative test, and then take a few days after that negative test just to be certain that you still don’t have anything.'”

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