Highly Anticipated UFC Grudge Match Derailed After Fighter Contracts COVID-19

UFC Octagon

Getty General view of the UFC 238 Octagon at United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

The highly anticipated rematch between Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev is off due to Cutelaba contracting COVID-19. The two light heavyweight fighters were scheduled to compete on the main card of Saturday’s UFC 252, but The Hulk’s manager confirmed on Tuesday to ESPN that his fighter had the coronavirus.

The Hulk and Ankalaev were involved in one of the wildest and controversial matches of 2020. They first fought on February 29 during UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo. The two men became physical before the fight even officially started. As ring announcer Bruce Buffer was introducing Cutelaba, the fighter marched over to the other side of the Octagon where Ankalaev was. The Hulk got into his face, and Ankalaev grabbed him and swung him into the fence.

No strikes were thrown as officials quickly charged in to break up the action. Watch the altercation below:

The match proceeded as normal, however the pre-fight brawl was not the only controversial thing to happen. The fight only lasted 38 seconds as it ended with one of the most disputed referee stoppages of the year.

When the bout started, both fighters came out very aggressive. Ankalaev clipped The Hulk early and continued to land vicious strikes, including multiple head kicks. The Hulk was visibly hurt, but he was still in the fight and firing back. While rocked, The Hulk threw a wild haymaker and missed his target, and the referee saw enough.  He stopped the fight, prompting outrage from Cutelaba and disapproval from the audience.

Officially, Ankalaev won the match by first-round TKO. Watch the controversial stoppage below:

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It Is Unclear If the UFC Plans on Rescheduling the Match or If Ankalaev  Will Look for a New Opponent

Once the referee stepped in, boos filled the arena, and after Ankalaev’s post-fight interview with Michael Bisping, he proceeded to flip off the Norfolk, Virginia, crowd.

With the loss, Cutelabam’s professional MMA record fell to 15-5 and one no contest. Ankalaev added another victory to his impressive record, improving to 14-1.

At the time of this writing, it’s unclear if the UFC will try and rebook the rematch as soon as possible, or if Ankalaev will be linked to another opponent.

UFC 252 Features the Anticipated Trilogy Match Between to UFC Greats

On August 15, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will attempt to defend his title against former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. It will be the third time the two greats have met inside the Octagon, and the rivalry is tied 1-1. See the entire fight card below:

Main Card

Heavyweight Championship Bout: Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Bantamweight Bout: Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera
Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Bantamweight Bout: John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Preliminary Card

Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Ashley Yoder vs. Livia Renata Souza
Heavyweight Bout: Chris Daukaus vs. Parker Porter
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Felice Herrig vs. Virna Jandiroba

Early Preliminary Card

Featherweight Bout: Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda
Featherweight Bout: T.J Brown vs. Daniel Chavez

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