Ottman Azaitar returns to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) for the first time since Sept. 2020. And with his return comes more rampant speculation about “what was in the bag” that resulted in his two-year break from competing.
Azaitar is fighting Matt Frevola at UFC 281 in a bout that was originally supposed to go down back in Jan. 2021 on “Fight Island.” This was back during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and “Fight Island” was part genius marketing scheme and part lockdown bubble fortress. Coronavirus never managed to pierce the protective shell the United Arab Emirates placed around UFC events — but a mystery associate of Azaitar did.
Two days before the event, UFC announced Azaitar was off UFC 257 and being cut from the organization. The reason is still one of the craziest stories we’ve heard over our 20 years covering the sport.
“He and his team cut their wristbands off and got them to people on the outside,” UFC President, Dana White, explained at the time. “One guy, this guy got inside the bubble, went in through a room, shimmied down four balconies, went in through [Azaitar’s] balcony, and dropped off a bag of we don’t know what. Then he changed his clothes and went back outside of the bubble. We got everything on camera, we saw the whole thing, and how it all went down, pulled his fight and cut him.”
Cooler heads prevailed and Azaitar was let back into UFC a few months later, with his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, calling the whole situation a “misunderstanding.” But, we still want to know: what was in the bag? Azaitar has refused to say. And during the media interviews for UFC 281, press finally got to grill him on the subject.
“Are you tired of fans and media asking, ‘What was in the bag?’” one reporter asked.
“No, not really, I’m not tired” Azaitar said. “No problem, they can ask.”
“What was in the bag?” another reporter called out.
“You see? They can ask, no problem,” Azaitar said with a smile before falling silent.
“You’re not going to tell us though?” the first reporter prompted.
“No problem, you can ask,” Ottman repreated. “But the thing is ... uh ... so I’m not confirming anything by what I am saying now. But, let’s say I have now a bag with me. Let’s say I come into the room with a bag. Why would you ask me, ‘What’s in the bag?’ What’s in your bag?”
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) clearly had their own ideas on what was in the bag.
Following the incident, the drug testing agency tested Azaitar 26 times in 2021 alone. Things chilled out in 2022, and he has only been tested six times this year — possibly because USADA is busy giving Jiri Prochazka the Azaitar treatment. The Light Heavyweight champion has been tested more than 20 times in a month leading up to his UFC 282 fight against Glover Teixeira.
Azaitar comes into UFC 281 with a perfect (12-0) record, two knockouts in his two UFC fights ... and his own bag.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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