The specter of Covid-19 continues to be felt in sports after Amanda Nunes was ruled out of her August 7 UFC bantamweight title defense against Julianna Pena after the Brazilian tested positive for the virus.
Nunes’ withdrawal from the fight was confirmed Thursday by several sources, with the reasoning confirmed as being a positive Covid-19 diagnosis which has also infected her partner Nina Nunes and their infant daughter Raegan.
It is unclear at this point if Nunes was vaccinated.
UFC officials have indicated that they will attempt to rebook the fight for later in the year.
The news will come as a blow to next month’s UFC 265 fight card which is set to take place in Houston, Texas, and will be topped by an interim heavyweight title tilt between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane – with a bantamweight scrap between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz now likely to move into the co-main event slot.
Nunes is widely considered to be the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time, and the only female fighter in history to have held two world titles simultaneously in the UFC.
Her list of vanquished opponents reads like a who’s-who of big name MMA stars. Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko and Holly Holm have all held gold in the UFC but fell at the feet of the ‘Lioness’ in the Octagon.
The fight with Pena was slated to be Nunes’ return to the bantamweight fold after a two-fight sojourn at featherweight during which she beat both Felicia Spencer and, this past March, Megan Anderson.
Her bantamweight title hasn’t been defended since December 2019 which could mean that there will be a round a two-year gap between title defenses – a situation that the UFC are notoriously keen to afford when they crown a double-champion, and which could potentially lead to an interim title being created.
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