Combate Americas Waives Matching Rights for Lopez, UFC Fight With Dvalishvili Is On

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Gustavo Lopez Combate Americas
Gustavo Lopez celebrates his title winning victory. Photo: Combate Americas

The newly announced fight between Merab Dvalishvili and Gustavo Lopez for this Saturday’s UFC event nearly hit a roadblock due to a contract dispute on the part of Lopez and Combate Americas.

Crisis averted. The newly announced bout between Merab Dvalishvili and Gustavo Lopez for this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night is officially on after a contract dispute threatened to cancel the bout. It seems Combate Americas had retained matching rights for any contract offered to their bantamweight champion.  Per statements from Combate Americas CEO Campbell McClaren and Lopez’s manager Daniel Rubenstein, the sides had not officially agreed to his release for him to compete on Saturday.

Rubenstein admitted on social media that he had made a mistake in confirming Lopez’s participation in the UFC on ESPN 10 card to media outlets earlier in the day.

However, this evening, Combate Americas’ Campbell McLaren confirmed that the promotion would waive any rights it retained to Lopez. “Combate Americas has decided to allow Gustavo Lopez to move forward and fight in the UFC this Saturday night. We wish him the best of luck with the rest of his career,” he wrote in a statement.

Gustavo Lopez (10-4), who was the Combate Americas bantamweight champion, is on a three fight win streak that included winning the 135lb title against José Alday. He then defended it against Joey Ruquet last year.  Lopez has not fought since last August and had not yet been scheduled for a fight this year.   Per Amy Kaplan of Fansided, Lopez had completed the current number of fights on his contract but remained in a restricted free agency period as Combate Americas had the rights to match any contract offer made to Lopez.  Notably, Combate Americas had previously announced an interim title fight in Lopez’s division prior to the coronavirus pandemic cancelling all sporting events.

During the UFC on ESPN 10 virtual media day, officials had announced that UFC bantamweight Ray Borg has withdrawn from this Saturday’s bout against Merab Dvalishvili.  While no exact reason was given for his withdrawal, Borg alluded on social media that the issue had to do with his son, who has had serious health issues in the past.  Soon after, MMA Junkie had reported that both Lopez’s and Dvalishvili’s managers had agreed to a bout on 48 hours notice.  MMAFighting.com had reported the bout between the two would be taking place at a catchweight of 140 pounds.

This Saturday’s event will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas without fans and is set to air on ESPN.

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