Ottman Azaitar has been withdrawn from fighting at UFC 257 this weekend and kicked out of the mixed martial arts organisation after a serious breach of health and safety protocols at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Azaitar was due to take on Matt Frevola in a lightweight contest on the main card but the UFC announced the bout had been cancelled shortly before the weigh-ins because the German-Moroccan fighter had “violated” safety measures.
UFC president Dana White later alleged Azaitar and his team had removed the wristbands which allow them to roam freely around the bio-secure bubble in an apparent attempt to smuggle somebody into the safe zone.
“It’s pretty amazing, actually,” White said on BT Sport. “He and his team cut off their wristbands, gave them to somebody outside the bubble, I don’t know how they even did it.
“That guy taped them, showed up here with a bag, went into a room, shimmied across four balconies, went in his room, dropped the bag off, changed his clothes then left. When security tried to stop him, he wouldn’t stop.
“It’s just bad.”
The UFC routinely tests everyone involved in the build-up to an event – from fighters to its own support staff – in a bid to continue amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and stringent safety measures are in place inside the bubble itself.
While Azaitar is a rising star in MMA, with a 13-0 record, his indiscretion could have comprised a number of individuals and an incandescent White has taken the decision to boot the prospect out of the company.
“He’s gone, he’s no longer a UFC fighter and he’s not fighting here,” White added.
Frevola will now take on late replacement Arman Tsarukyan at a 157lb catchweight in the final bout of the preliminaries.