The UFC’s card this weekend has been gutted by COVID-19.
Two fights were canceled and one fighter was taken off the event Saturday just hours before the start of the show for coronavirus-related reasons, UFC officials announced.
The changes have left UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Sakai with just seven fights, the lowest total for a UFC card since UFC Fight Night 2 on Oct. 3, 2005, which also had seven fights.
A lightweight bout between Thiago Moises and Jalin Turner and a heavyweight bout between Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Alexander Romanov were both pulled because of positive COVID-19 tests, officials said. Brazilian outlet Combate was the first to report the two cancellations.
Meanwhile, Brian Kelleher has a new opponent for his featherweight fight Saturday. Kevin Natividad was removed from the card for coronavirus-related precautionary reasons, officials said. Kelleher will now fight Ray Rodriguez, who weighed in as a backup Friday. Rodriguez is Kelleher’s third scheduled opponent for this event. Kelleher’s original opponent, Ricky Simon, was taken off the card last week because one of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.
This is the third UFC card in as many weeks that has had a bout pulled on the day of the event because of COVID-19. This event now begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ with just a main card and no prelims.
UFC Fight Night on Saturday is headlined by a heavyweight fight between legend Alistair Overeem, who is ranked No. 10 in the world in the division by ESPN, and the surging Augusto Sakai.