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Muslim Salikhov withdraws from January 16th fight vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio

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The “King of Kung Fu” won’t be on the UFC’s first show of 2021.

Muslim Salikhov, UFC Fight Island 7, COVID-19 Cancellations, Santiago Ponzinibbio,

The UFC’s first show of 2021 has already experienced a cancellation.

Welterweight striker Muslim Salikhov revealed on his Instagram that he has withdrawn from his fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio, which was set for January 16th. Salikhov had previously pulled out of an October fight with Claudio Silva. According to the post, Salikhov cited health issues for both pullouts and referenced COVID-19 symptoms he’d developed back in September. (H/T MMA Fighting)

Salikhov (17-2) has won four straight since a disappointing UFC debut loss to Alex Garcia in 2017. The native of Dagestan is coming off a split decision over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in July, and also holds knockout wins over Ricky Rainey and Nordine Taleb.

Ponzinibbio (27-3) is on a seven-fight winning streak but he hasn’t fought since September 2018, when he knocked out Neil Magny in front of his home fans in Argentina. Numerous injuries and health problems have prevented him from making his return. Now that he’s ready to compete again, he’ll have to find a different opponent to face.

The UFC’s January 16th card features a featherweight main event between former champion Max Holloway and rising star Calvin Kattar. It is expected that the event will take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.