UFC Reverses Course on Ottman Azaitar Release, Lightweight Remains on Roster

By: Tristen Critchfield
Feb 20, 2021

In yet another strange turn of events, lightweight Ottman Azaitar has been granted a second chance by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

UFC president Dana White revealed to ESPN on Saturday that Azaitar will remain on the roster after previously announcing the fighter would be released due to breaking COVID-19 protocols in Abu Dhabi ahead of a UFC 257 matchup with Matt Frevola.

“So [Azaitar] 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 into his room, dropped the bag off, changed his clothes, and then left. Now, when security tried to stop him, he wouldn’t stop. Either way, it’s just…yeah, [Azaitar]’s gone. [Azaitar]’s no longer a UFC fighter, and he’s not fighting tonight,” White told BT Sport ahead of UFC 257.

According to Azaitar’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, the situation was a “misunderstanding,” and the Moroccan competitor was never officially removed from the UFC roster or the promotion’s drug testing pool. Azaitar has not commented on the situation, nor has the promotion issued any further statement outside of White’s confirmation that the fighter remains on the roster.

Azaitar, 31, is 13-0 over the course of his professional MMA career. He kicked off his UFC tenure with first-round knockouts of Teemu Packalen and Khama Worthy in his first two promotional appearances.

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