UFC President Dana White (temporarily) fired undefeated lightweight sensation Ottman Azaitar the day before his showdown against Matt Frevola at UFC 257 after “Bulldozer” contributed to a “Fight Island” security breach that nearly sank the entire “Poirier vs. McGregor” event.
As White explained to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Azaitar and his team broke protocol by cutting their wristbands off and giving them to an individual outside the quarantine bubble, who then gained access to the premises and scaled the hotel balcony to deliver a secret bag of potatoes.
“Potatoes, it was potatoes in the bag,” manager Ali Abdelaziz told Kevin Iole (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “He didn’t lose the job. At the end of the day, it was almost like an investigation. Dana looked over it. He’s a great kid. Everybody loves him. All the UFC staff loves him. Some people got involved. Dana was involved. Listen, when you have Dana White himself handling certain situations, it’s a serious situation. At the end of the day, if they find out whatever they think he did or didn’t do, he’s a good enough person to get a second shot. He got a second shot at it, and he’s looking to get a fight right now.”
White later had a change of heart and elected to keep Azaitar on the lightweight roster but didn’t get into specifics about how the ordeal unfolded. Abdelaziz claims it was nothing more than a misunderstanding (uh huh) and fortunately for “Bulldozer,” cooler heads prevailed.
“He’s a UFC fighter, he was never cut officially from the UFC,” Abdelaziz continued. “Let’s remember when you have media start asking about stuff, Dana wears his heart on his sleeve. Nobody can violate the bubble. I don’t think everything that happened was intentional. At the end of the day, it’s over. I’m not saying who’s wrong or who’s right. Dana thankfully brought him back, and everything is good.”
Azaitar, 31, made his UFC debut in Sept. 2019 with a first-round knockout over Teemu Packalen, then returned to the Octagon the following Sept. to score another first-round finish, this time over veteran lightweight Khama Worthy.
The 13-0 “Bulldozer” is currently awaiting his next assignment.