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The coronavirus has reportedly affected another Ultimate Fighting Championship title fight.
Late Friday night, Combate reported that Deiveson Figueiredo has tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, he will not be flying to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to prepare for his headliner on Yas Island. With his flyweight championship affair against Joseph Benavidez taking place at UFC Fight Night 172 on July 18, Figueiredo is taking another test and awaiting results to determine if the first was a false positive.
The Brazilian claimed that he initially tested positive for the virus in May, and recovered after going through various symptoms. Although scientific knowledge of the coronavirus is still developing, a person can contract the virus on multiple occasions, but may also suffer future false positive tests after recovery. Should Figueiredo pass his second test, he may be allowed to fly to the event. If he is not medically cleared, Alexandre Pantoja has already been tapped as an alternate.
Figueiredo (18-1) is looking to keep it rolling on the heels of a crushing knockout victory over Benavidez in February. The bout was marred with controversy, because not only did the Brazilian miss weight, but the two men clashed heads shortly before “Daico” secured the finish. Throughout his career, his lone defeat came to countryman Jussier Formiga, while he holds a decision win over the aforementioned Pantoja less than one year ago. The man also known as “Deus da Guerra” posts a high stoppage rate of 83 percent, prevailing before the final bell in four of his last five Octagon triumphs.
Benavidez (28-6) had a three-win streak snapped at the hands and head of Figueiredo in February. In that span, Benavidez notched victories over Alex Perez, Dustin Ortiz and Formiga to earn another title shot. Other than a contentious split decision loss to Sergio Pettis in 2018, four of Benavidez’ last five defeats have come in championship affairs. Benavidez has come up short to Dominick Cruz in World Extreme Cagefighting, and twice to Demetrious Johnson for the 125-pound throne as well.
Should Pantoja (22-4) gain the opportunity to fight for the title, it will be after winning a single fight in December. Knocking out Matt Schnell in the opening round of that event, he put himself back in the win column after the decision loss to Figueiredo at UFC 240. Pantoja has never been finished as a professional, and “The Cannibal” sports a solid finish rate of 73 percent. At the moment, Pantoja is scheduled that night to face the unbeaten Askar Askarov, but he would be elevated to the championship bout if needed.
UFC Fight Night 172 is tentatively topped by a flyweight championship rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Should Figueiredo not be able to compete, Alexandre Pantoja will step up in his stead. The co-headliner sees a high-stakes middleweight showdown between Kelvin Gastelum and Jack Hermansson.