There’s been a little bit of turmoil in the waters, and we aren’t even on Fight Island yet.
The UFC’s four-event stint in Abu Dhabi officially gets underway on July 11 with UFC 251. On the Tuesday and Wednesday prior, the promotion is set to host a two-day media day with some of the top fighters on the card. Three Fight Night events will follow, but there’s been a shake-up thanks to a trio of positive COVID-19 tests.
Anderson Dos Santos, who was expected to face Jack Shore on the July 15 Fight Island card, has been removed from his bantamweight bout after testing positive for the disease. Dos Santos (20-8) hails from Brazil, one of the nations hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. MMA Fighting first reported the news.
Fellow Brazilian Vinicius Moreira, a lightweight, was expected to fight on the very same card, against Modestas Bukauskas. Moreira also tested positive for COVID-19, and has been pulled from the event. That news was also revealed by MMA Fighting.
There has been no official word on replacements for either fighter thus far. The UFC has ramped up testing ahead of their trip to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi for the Fight Island events. That includes multiple COVID-19 tests at several stages of the fighter’s journey to fight night.
While not testing positive herself, a third positive test, by a cornerman, has seen Marina Rodriguez pulled from the July 15 show as well. Per a report by MMA Fighting, the UFC opted not to have her board a chartered flight for Abu Dhabi on Friday, presumably out of an abundance of caution.
Rodriguez (12-0-2) had been expected to face former strawweight champion Carla Esparza at the event.
The July 15 Fight Island card is expected to be headlined by featherweight action between Dan Ige and Calvin Kattar. A dozen bouts had been announced for the line-up.