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Josh Emmett shares ‘crazy’ story of ‘illegally’ flying out of Asia during COVID-19 outbreak

Josh Emmett had a wonderful time in Vietnam earlier this year, but he would not have made it stateside if not for some Mission: Impossible moves.

Emmett and his wife embarked on a trip to Vietnam in February. Their loved ones were concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic in China, but the top-ranked UFC fighter and his significant other were less concerned.

“My wife and I left Feb. 4 and we got back on Feb. 24. Our friends and family were freaking out a little bit, they’re like, ‘You shouldn’t go, this is really bad.’ We were going to go regardless,” Emmett told Bloody Elbow ahead of his fight with Shane Burgos on June 20. “If we get it, we get it.”

The trip went swimmingly — until they tried to get home.

“We had a blast. It was super fun. We started in the southern part of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City and then we worked our way up North all the way up until we got to the border of China and Laos in Sapa. We could see the border was closed in China because of this. It was a crazy story getting in there because of COVID-19. We were flying through Taipei, Taiwan. They weren’t allowing people to come through Taiwan to Vietnam so our visas didn’t work when we showed up to the airport,” Emmett shared. “I tried to get a 24-hour emergency visa but we missed our flight. They told us we couldn’t go.”

“This lady that works for the airline was super helpful — this was at midnight, we stayed until 3, 3:30 in the morning. No one was in the San Francisco airport and she was calling her friends and family that worked in Saigon. She ended up saying, ‘Bring $400 cash tomorrow in an envelope.’ She made it happen. My wife and I flew illegally, or with no visa, to two different countries. They took us through some back alley ways when we got to Taipei so we didn’t have to go through customs,” he continued. “This lady found us when we got off the plane and she just asked for our passports. We followed her, she told us to sit down. We got a legit visa, like a sticker good for six months. She handed them back to us and walked off.” It was pretty crazy... Someone definitely could have gotten fired, or a lot of people.”

Emmett and his wife considered staying in Vietnam instead of flying into Taiwan.

“We didn’t know what to expect because of coronavirus. I was asking the guy at the front desk [of the hotel], ‘Is it safe over there [in Taiwan?]’ He said, ‘Well, if you don’t have to go, I would not go.’ It was kind of crazy. It was difficult to do this. At one point, my wife and I were on the plane and we’re like, ‘I don’t even want to go’ but it’s too late. We were on the tarmac. Here we go. 14 hour flight to Taiwan. When we got there, the guy was like, ‘I don’t know about your visa.’” Emmett reflected. “It’s almost like we kind of snuck on the plane. They took us through a back alley way and then basically turned the other way and we just walked on... My wife was a great sport. It was crazy though.”

Emmett and his wife can start brainstorming on their next destination after he fights Shane Burgos at UFC Vegas 2 on June 20. The card is headlined by ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov.


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