UFC Title Match in Jeopardy After Fighter Tests Positive for COVID-19

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UFC Octagon

GettyWorkers sanitize the Octagon between fights during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The coronavirus has affected another UFC title fight. No. 1 ranked flyweight Deiveson Figueiredo is scheduled to fight No. 2 ranked Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight title on July 18, however, Figueiredo has tested positive for COVID-19 and their title fight is in jeopardy.

Update: Figueiredo tested negative for COVID-19 for his second test and the fight is still on.

Figueiredo’s manager, Wallid Ismail, confirmed to ESPN that the flyweight fighter tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday in Brazil. The title fight between the flyweights is not officially off yet, Ismail told ESPN, as Figueiredo will be issued another COVID-19 test on Saturday to confirm the positive result. The result of the second test should be known on Sunday.

According to the outlet, Figueiredo’s team believes that the positive outcome of the Brazilian’s test is false. Figueiredo already battled COVID-19 in May, and they don’t believe the Brazilian can contract it again.

Ismail told ESPN: “Deiveson tested positive two months ago. There is no way he tests positive again. Our position is that is a false positive. We’re waiting [for] the second test to prove that he’s clear and can fly normally to fight.”

On Friday night, Figueiredo was supposed to get on a plane to fly to Abu Dhabi. UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 is the promotion’s third fight card to take place on Yas Island. Due to the positive test, Figueiredo was unable to board the flight. If Figueiredo’s second test turns out to be positive, he will most likely be removed from the card.

The UFC may match Benavidez up with another flyweight. There are two other top-ranked flyweights fighting on the card, No. 4 ranked Alexandre Pantoja and No. 7 ranked Askar Askarov. One of the men would potentially be elevated into the main event slot against Benavidez, with Pantoja being the more likely choice as he is ranked higher than Askarov.

If Figueiredo tests negative for the coronavirus, he could potentially fly to Abu Dhabi Sunday night to compete against Benavidez, Ismail told ESPN.

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Figueiredo & Benavidez Fought in February & the Brazilian Won By Second-Round TKO

This is not the first time Figueiredo and Benavidez have been scheduled to fight for the vacant flyweight title. Both men were set to compete for the championship on February 29, however, Figueiredo missed weight. The fight went on ahead, but Figueiredo was ineligible to win the title.

The bout was an exciting affair with an abrupt ending. The two fighters collided heads during the second round, and after Figueiredo landed a few powerful punches, the fight was over. Although Figueiredo won the fight by TKO,  the UFC chose to book the rematch with the belt on the line.

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez Fight Card

See July 18’s  fight card below:

Main Card:

Flyweight Championship Bout: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez
Middleweight Bout: Jack Hermansson vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Lightweight Bout: Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Fiziev
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Ariane Lipski vs. Luana Carolina
Flyweight Bout: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Askar Askarov

Preliminary Card:

Light Heavyweight Bout: Khadis Ibragimov vs. Roman Dolidze
Catchweight (150 lb) Bout: Grant Dawson vs. Nad Narimani
Lightweight Bout: Joseph Duffy vs. Joel Álvarez
Bantamweight Bout: Brett Johns vs. Montel Jackson
Flyweight Bout: Malcolm Gordon vs. Amir Albazi
Lightweight Bout: Davi Ramos vs. Arman Tsarukyan
Heavyweight Bout: Sergey Spivak vs. Carlos Felipe

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