COVID-19 has put a UFC main event title fight in jeopardy for the second time in as many weeks
Deiveson Figueiredo, who was scheduled to meet Joseph Benavidez in the headline bout on July 18 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Figueiredo (18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) had previously tested positive for COVID two months ago, and with second infections with the novel coronavirus being rare, his camp hopes he has registered a false positive.
Figueiredo will do a re-test on Saturday; if he comes up negative, he will fly out to Abu Dhabi. If he tests positive again, he will fly out to the Middle East.
If Figueiredo does pull out, a source tells MMA Junkie that Alexandre Pantoja, who is scheduled to fight Askar Askarov on the evening’s main card, is expected to step in to face Benavidez.
Figueiredo and Benavidez originally fought on Feb. 29. Figueiredo won via a second-round finish. But he missed weight the day before, which meant that only Benavidez was eligible to win the title, and as such, the title remained vacant.
Figueiredo’s withdrawal came one week after UFC 251 headliner Gilbert Burns, who was slated to fight Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title, pulled out due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. Jorge Masvidal took his place in the evening’s main event.