In the lead-up to Saturday’s UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, Ottman Azaitar was released from his UFC contract for violating COVID-19 safety protocols.
Azaitar was scheduled to face Matt Frevola on the main pay-per-view UFC 257 card. He did not appear at the UFC 257 weigh-in on Friday, although it was announced that he would not fight on Saturday.
No reason for Azaitar’s withdrawal from the fight was given by UFC officials at the weigh-in. However, UFC President Dana White did so in a UFC Arabia interview. He suggested that Azaitar and his staff breached COVID-19 safety protocols brazenly, leading to the release of Azaitar from his contract.
“He and his team cut their wristbands off and got them to people on the outside (of the UFC safety bubble), one guy,” White said.
“This guy got inside the bubble, went in through a room, shimmied down four balconies, went in through (Azaitar’s) balcony, and dropped off a bag of we don’t know what. Then changed his clothes and went back outside of the bubble.
“We got everything on camera, we saw the whole thing, and how it all went down, pulled his fight and cut him.”
While Azaitar has been removed from the fight and released, Frevola still has a UFC 257 fight.
Due to illness, Nasrat Haqparast is unable to compete with Arman Tsarukyan in his scheduled bout. As such, to face Tsarukyan, which is the featured UFC 257 preliminary bout, Frevola will move into that bout.
Tsarukyan missed the one-pound lightweight cut-off and was fined 20% of his fight purse, which will go to Frevola.