TAMPA, Fla. — It took a little before UFC featherweight fighter Billy Quarantillo got used to fighting in an empty arena.
"Normally you’d hear the crowd. It’d be deafening. It’s usually super loud, people going crazy," Quarantillo said. "No one was really making any noise besides our coaches. It just reminded me of a street fight."
The Tampa resident won a unanimous decision over Spike Carlyle at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. The UFC Apex arena didn't have any fans, but the essential personnel were all tested for COVID-19. Billy said he felt safe the entire time he was at the event.
"Dana White and UFC did a really good job of making sure everyone was getting tested," he said. "We’re lucky that the UFC is a sport where it’s two fighters in their and it’s a couple corner guys coaching them. It doesn’t have to be this huge team thing."
The 31-year-old said people reached out to him and said "Thank you" for being part of a live sporting event. It's something that'll seem strange when he looks back on the event.
"I’m like 'Is this real?' If you would’ve told me this four months ago, 'You’re fighting in the empty Apex. You’re going to have to wear a mask at weigh-ins.' It’'s just been a crazy experience for everyone right now," he said.
Quarantillo improved to 14-2, 2-0 in the UFC. He hopes his next fight will be at the first event when fans are allowed to return.
"I got into fighting like most people. I want to entertain," he said. "Putting on a show and people say 'Wow, that was super entertaining!' So I’d love to be on that first fight back. It could be in Florida because, yeah, who knows? We’re loosening up a little bit more than everyone else."
"Billy Q" has won his last seven MMA fights.