We’re less than one week out from UFC Vegas 26 on May 8, 2021 (a.k.a. UFC on ESPN 24). And yet we still do not have a main event. In fact, we barely have an official card!
As it’s currently labeled on UFC.com, UFC on ESPN: TBA vs. TBA is what happens when a great card gets hit with the ol’ MMA gypsy curse. Originally set to be headlined by Corey Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw, that main event went out the window when Dillashaw split his eyebrow open last week.
Can't wait for this Saturday's UFC: TBD vs. TBD event pic.twitter.com/1eAhl5Lw83— MMA mania (@mmamania) May 3, 2021
Then an exciting main card bout between Diego Sanchez and Donald Cerrone also fell apart due to ... well, it’s complicated, but if you have the time to read five articles and watch 30 minutes of video to understand, you can. Cerrone will now face Alex Morono.
Also off the card: Holly Holm vs. Julianna Pena (due to Holm suffering from Hydronephrosis). Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos (due to Modafferi tearing her meniscus). Exciting prospect Jimmy Flick just decided to retire out of the blue. Deiveson Figueiredo’s brother Francisco got moved to another card. It’s just one of those unfortunate events that started out wicked awesome, but is now limping across the finish line.
So now here’s where we are: the new main event is “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson vs. Marina Rodriguez ... maybe. According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, there’s some “logistical issue” with Rodriguez calling this into question.
UFC has yet to officially announce/acknowledge the Waterson-Rodriguez headliner this w/e. The issue isn’t Waterson. She signed, I’m told. It’s more of logistical issue with Rodriguez. Not injury/Covid related. They are hopeful it works out ASAP but that’s why no acknowledgment.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 3, 2021
From there things only get stranger: for some reason, only one other fight is listed for this event on UFC’s website: a Middleweight bout between Jun Yong Park vs. Tafon Nchukwi.
Now to be clear: there’s 12 bouts currently signed and ready for this card and 1 bout currently seeking replacement opponents. They’re just not listed anywhere 5 days before the event for some reason. It’s all just a bit odd. The UFC is no stranger to running events at a breakneck speed and dealing with last second issues. We’re just not used to stuff taking this long to sort out.
Here are the UFC Vegas 26 bouts we know about right now:
- Michelle Waterson vs Marina Rodriguez
- Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono
- Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal
- Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie
- Angela Hill vs. Amanda Ribas
- Phil Hawes vs. Kyle Daukaus
- Ben Rothwell vs. Philipe Lins
- Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
- Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ryan Benoit
- Christian Aguilera vs. Carlston Harris
- Taila Santos vs. TBD
Stay tuned ...