Cutelaba tests positive, out of Ankalaev rematch


A UFC prospect is out of the rematch of a controversial bout from earlier this year.

Ion Cutelaba, a light heavyweight up-and-comer, tested positive for COVID-19 and has withdrawn from a scheduled bout against Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 252 on Saturday, Cutelaba’s manager, Tiago Okamura, confirmed Tuesday to ESPN.

Russia’s TASS was the first to report the news.

Okamura said Cutelaba was tested for the coronavirus before he left his native Moldova this week, and he tested positive. He is currently quarantining, and his team is watching for symptoms, though he is not currently exhibiting any, Okamura said.

It’s unclear if the UFC will seek another opponent for Ankalaev.

Cutelaba and Ankalaev fought Feb. 29 at UFC Norfolk, with Ankalaev winning by first-round TKO. However, referee Kevin MacDonald‘s call to stop the bout was heavily disputed. Cutelaba never went down because of Ankalaev’s strikes and argued that he was playing possum, attempting to get Ankalaev to commit so he could counter.

Cutelaba’s team appealed the result with the Virginia Athletic Commission, but it was denied by the Virginia Boxing and Wrestling regulator body. Given the controversy of that finish, UFC president Dana White announced that there would be a rematch. It was initially slated for April 18, but the card was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cutelaba (15-5, 1 NC) had won three of four going into his first bout with Ankalaev. The 26-year-old slugger is one of the more promising young light heavyweights in the sport, with 14 finishes in 15 career wins.

Ankalaev (14-1), another blue-chip prospect, has won four straight. The 28-year-old Dagestan product has three finishes in four UFC victories.

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