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Chikadze’s withdrawal from UFC Vegas: Smith vs. Rakic fight caused by positive COVID test

Chikadze had been set to fight longtime UFC veteran Alex Caceres on the evening’s prelim card. Unfortunately he had to withdraw just days out from the event, due to what’s now been reported as a positive test for COVID-19.

UFC Fight Night: Overeem v Harris Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

With the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic still hanging firmly over the United States, the UFC’s recent fight cards have been plagued by last minute changes. The booking instability can be chalked up, in part, to fighters grappling with the problems of training under conditions of social distancing; struggling to maintain the routines and controls that a pro-level fight camp can put in place.

But, it’s also due to the fact that, with the necessities of sparring and travel, fighters are just at risk of catching the coronavirus. To date more than a dozen athletes have been removed from cards due to publicly announced positive COVID-19 tests, following the UFC’s return to action from a string of cancelled events in March and April.

The latest fighter forced out of his planned UFC bout after contracting the illness is none other than Georgian striking sensation Giga Chikadze. Chikadze was set to face off against Alex Caceres this week on the undercard of the UFC Vegas: Smith vs. Rakic fight night event. The Kings MMA fighter withdrew several days out, for undisclosed reasons. However, Adjara Sport has since reported that his removal from the fight was due to a positive test for COVID-19. On Friday, August 28th, UFC officials confirmed the news to MMA Fighting.

A former pro kickboxer, Chikadze is currently 3-0 in the UFC’s featherweight division—having picked up hard fought victories over Brandon Davis, Jamall Emmers, and Irwin Rivera. Hopefully he will recover quickly, and return to action in the near future.

In his place, Caceres will now face 12-3 newcomer Austin Springer. Springer steps in on just one day’s notice following the UFC’s attempted signing and quick release of longtime regional vet Kevin Croom. UFC Vegas 8 takes place this Saturday, August 29th, at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, NV. The card will be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic.