UFC 260 took a big hit on Saturday night when it was announced that one of the two title fights had fallen through because of COVID-19. Bantamweight champ Alexander Volkanovski was set to face a resurgent Brian Ortega on March 27, 2021, but a positive COVID-19 test from the champ has ended all that. Volkanovski vs. Ortega will now be postponed to a future event.
Here’s what Volkanovski had to say about the situation:
“So devastated to share that I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and my fight is off and will be rescheduled,” Volkanovski wrote on Twitter. “I tested negative leaving Australia, negative before entering the UFC bubble but my latest test was positive.
“We have worked so hard getting ready for this fight and I’m absolutely gutted this has happened,” he continued. “We followed every policy and process to remain COVID free but it wasn’t meant to be this time. Thanks to everyone here in the States for your support since arriving and to everyone back home and around the world for your positive messages. To my fans, I’m certain I’ll be bouncing back stronger than ever before.”
Ortega also released a statement supporting Volkanovski and plans to reschedule the fight when he’s healthy.
“I know you would have took the fight no matter what, even with COVID,” Ortega said. “That’s the type of human you are. I respect that. I hope you get better, I hope you heal up fast.… Some things are out of our control. We’ll postpone it and we’ll just reschedule it, we got to. Stay sharp, we’re staying sharp. Whenever this s—t is meant to happen, it’ll happen.”
Volkanovski arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 17, 2021, and news broke of his positive test on the evening of the nineteenth. While COVID-19 sometimes slips past testing early on after a person has caught it, it certainly seems like “The Great” had the misfortune of catching the sickness either while traveling to Vegas ... or after arriving.
Unlike the strict bubble that exists around “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, there have been reports that the UFC APEX bubble is nowhere near as strict. Numerous fighters have shown up on fight week testing negative, only to be pulled days or sometimes hours before a card starts. With new, more contagious COVID-19 variants now running rampant in the United States and internationally, this isn’t the last big fight we’re going to lose as the pandemic rolls along in its second year.