The Ultimate Fighting Championship is not off to an auspicious start in 2019, losing a major fight just over a week out from their debut event on an ESPN network as John Lineker has withdrawn from his battle with Cory Sandhagen due to injury.
According to a report from Brazilian news outlet AgFight Thursday, bantamweight Lineker has been forced to withdraw from his bout at UFC Fight Night 143 on Jan. 19 due to a rib injury. The promotion has not yet announced whether he will be replaced or if Sandhagen will stay on the card.
Lineker was originally scheduled to face Dominick Cruz at UFC 233; however, Cruz tore multiple ligaments in his shoulder which may sideline the former champ for the next year. Lineker was then added to the UFC’s 2019 trip to Brooklyn, where he was set to face Sandhagen. Lineker’s bout with Sandhagen was slated to be the first UFC bout to ever air on an ESPN platform.
Sandhagen had a largely successful 2018, winning in January inside the Legacy Fighting Alliance by 67-second knockout and signing with the UFC to fight eight days later against Austin Arnett. Also knocking out Arnett, Sandhagen then went on to face Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 135 in August. In that bout, Sandhagen was in serious submission danger before escaping, and then pummeled Alcantara to pick up the second-round knockout and “Fight of the Night” for his troubles.
UFC on ESPN+ 1, also known as UFC Fight Night 143, is headlined by a flyweight title fight between flyweight champ Henry Cejudo and bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw on Jan. 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Also on the card in the co-headliner spot will be heavyweight Greg Hardy making his promotional debut against Allen Crowder.