UFC 260 has lost one of it’s double-header of title fights a week before fight night, as Alexander Volkanovski has tested positive for COVID-19 meaning his fight with Brian Ortega is off.
Volkanovski was due to defend his featherweight title for the second time in the co-main event of the card against Ortega but it was revealed during the UFC Vegas 22 broadcast on Saturday night that he has tested positive and the fight will now be postponed.
A new date for the fight has not yet been announced, but the organisation have said the fight will be re-made at a later date.
The news broke on the same day that Volkanovski’s training partner Brad Riddell was withdrawn from his co-main event bout against Gregor Gillespie owing to COVID-19 protocols, sparking suggestions that the two cases are likely linked with each other.
Volkanovski released a statement on Twitter shortly after the news broke, stating he was ‘gutted’ that the fight was cancelled since he and his team had ‘done everything right’.
Brian Ortega earned a shot at Volkanovski’s title after a stunning performance against the Korean Zombie on Fight Island in October, his first fight since being decimated in a title bout against Max Holloway back in December of 2018.
He showed a brand new style where he showed a more polished striking game to go with his already super dangerous grappling skills. It was expected that he would pose a whole new threat to Volkanovski, who beat Holloway in back-to-back title fights to win the belt and then defend it.
The defence against Holloway was controversial, with many believing that ‘Blessed’ had secured the win in the rematch after an excellent performance – but the judges disagreed. It led to speculation over a trilogy bout despite Volkanovski leading 2-0 on victories, but ultimately the decision was made to move on from that rivalry for now.
Ortega also released a video on his Instagram to acknowledge the cancellation of the bout, wishing Volkanovski a speedy recovery so they can finally get it on.
The hope is that the fight can be rescheduled in the near future, potentially added to an already existing pay-per-view card in a co-headline slot once again. If not the next open headline slot is July at UFC 263, although reports suggest that date is being targeted for Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor’s trilogy bout.