Fil-American ex-fighter Philipe Nover in the frontlines of New York’s battle against COVID-19

Santino Honasan on Apr 01, 2020 12:24 PM
Fil-Am Nover in the frontlines of NYC's battle vs. COVID-19
Fil-American ex-UFC fighter Philipe Nover is currently in the frontlines of New York's battle against the dreaded COVID-19 virus (FILE PHOTO)

For years, Filipino-American mixed martial artist Philipe “Super” Nover made a living fighting inside a cage for the biggest MMA promotions in the world.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Nover, whose Pinoy roots can be traced back to Quezon City, began his mixed martial arts career in 2003 and eventually made his way to the big stage via the UFC’s  The Ultimate Fighter reality show back in 2008. Once touted by UFC president Dana White as “The next Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre”, Nover was never really able to reach the heights that were expected of him and eventually parted ways with the world’s biggest MMA promotion in 2010.

(RELATED: The Return of Philipe Nover)

In 2015, Nover returned to the UFC, and his first fight back was during the Octagon’s historic debut in Manila, defeating South Korea’s Yui Chul Nam. Nover would drop his next three bouts however, and essentially leave mixed martial arts in 2017.

Now, over three years after his last professional bout, Nover is fighting an opponent that the whole world is currently dealing with. A registered nurse even before his time in the UFC, Nover is back in the medical arena and is now in the frontlines of NYC’s battle with the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

“Things just kind of turned upside down in a matter of days and weeks,” Nover said in an interview with’s Damon Martin. “I’d say New York City was quite ill prepared. Especially as you can see with the personal protective equipment (PPE), which is the masks, gowns, the N95 masks. Initially, there was a lot of issues providing enough for the medical staff. Having enough tests, which only in the last week I would say, we were actually able to test within the hospital.”

As of writing, there have been 188,578 positive cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 3,890 deaths. Of that total number, New York has the highest tally with 75,983 positive cases and 1,550 deaths.

“I mean this pandemic is spreading so rapidly and there was only one hospital in Long Island, N.Y. that was able to actually test in the hospital. It took three days even to get the results and that was as of a week or 10 days ago. Now we’re moving quick where we’re testing people, but we still don’t have enough tests.”

The main problem, Nover says, is the inability to test people because of the lack of testing kits available.

“We’re not even giving tests to everyone. You literally have to be critical and have a lot of symptoms to be tested. There’s an influx of patients.”

“Our emergency rooms are maxed out most of the time at 80 to 100 percent. Our ICU is maxed out. Those are the two areas of the hospitals where all medical personnel are directed towards,” he continued.

As with all people who are considered frontliners, there is great risk, especially in dealing with a virus so highly-contagious. Nover says that he understands what’s at stake, but it’s what the profession entails.

“As healthcare professionals in any environment within in the hospital, we’re what society counts on. We have to provide healthcare to the community. So when it comes down to risking ourselves, we do it everyday.”

“I do see co-workers and friends, who have contracted the virus. My immediate co-workers, no one is in critical condition at this point. I’ve seen some nurses that got bad but not to the point of getting intubated. As far as putting myself on the line, I thought about it initially but I said sign me up. I got into healthcare to help people and this really is what our calling should be,” Nover added.

While Nover hasn’t been competing since 2017, he still continues to train regularly, at least, back when things weren’t on lockdown.

Now, being exposed to the deadly disease on a regular basis, getting a training session in is simply not an option at the moment.

“As a former MMA fighter and jiu-jitsu practitioner, I’d love to go and train with the guys and I’m sure there’s guys out there training, but I just can’t risk it,” Nover explained. “I’m probably a carrier. I might not even show symptoms, but I just can’t risk it.”

For the man formerly known as “The Filipino Assassin” during his early days in the UFC, mass testing will be the number one key to victory, so to speak, against this dreaded pandemic that has the whole world in a chokehold.

“The No. 1 thing to overcome this virus is going to be testing,” Nover explained. “There are still not enough tests being produced. We are told as healthcare workers, we’re not even testing. Cause we’ve got to ration our tests.”

“So if a patient comes in and they’ve got all these symptoms, they have a temperature, they have trouble breathing but it’s manageable and their fever came down with Tylenol, body aches and we break the temperature in the hospital, we tell them you’ve probably got it but we’re not going to waste a test on you so go home. That’s what’s happening now. Until we have hundreds of thousands of tests for the mass population, the virus will probably continue to spread. This thing really hit us like a sucker punch. We were very ill prepared,” Nover said further.

Nover also detailed the possible risks of the UFC pushing through with an even during this time of crisis, which can be read on the full interview.

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