It’s hard to think of any non-headlining bout in UFC history that’s caused the promotion so much hassle as Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba. Their first fight ended in a cloud of controversy when Cutelaba faked the ref into believing he was badly injured with several seconds of upper body wobble.
Since then, both men have been eager to meet in the Octagon once again to settle their differences. And for the UFC’s part, they’ve beeh happy to try and strike while the iron is hot, and get this rivalry back in the cage. 2020 has had other plans, however.
The original rematch was booked for UFC 249, back in April. An event eventually cancelled wholesale by the coronavirus pandemic. Four months later, the UFC hoped to get the two light heavyweights squared off on UFC 252. But, a positive COVID-19 test for Cutelaba scuppered the bout during fight week. Rather than find Ankalaev a new opponent, the UFC just bumped the fight back two weeks to UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic. Unfortunately, yet to be clear of the virus, Cutelaba came up positive again for COVID-19 on fight day. And the bout was once again cancelled.
This time, at least, the UFC is giving the matchup a bit more room to breath. With plans for the fighters to meet on the undercard of UFC 254 on October 24th. Nearly two months after Cutelaba’s most recent positive COVID test. That should give the Moldovan ‘Hulk’ time to get fully clear of the virus. And makes 5 times this match has been put on paper, all for a sum total of 38 seconds of in-cage action. ESPN first reported the news of this latest re-booking.
UFC 254 is scheduled to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje. While not yet official, a middleweight bout between former champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Jared Cannonier is also expected for the event—as well as a top flight featherweight bout between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as the PPV card approaches.