Alexander Volkanovski is out of his featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega at UFC 260 because of promotion COVID-19 protocols, the UFC announced Saturday night on the UFC Fight Night broadcast.
Volkanovski tweeted later Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19, adding that he tested negative before leaving Australia and before entering the UFC bubble but that his latest test came up positive.
“We have worked so hard getting ready for this fight and I’m absolutely gutted this has happened,” he wrote in his tweet. “We followed every policy and process to remain covid free but it wasn’t meant to be this time.”
Volkanovski vs. Ortega was scheduled for the co-main event March 27 in Las Vegas.
Volkanovski, a native of Australia, had already flown into Vegas this past week, UFC play-by-play announcer Brendan Fitzgerald said. The bout is likely to be postponed to a later date.
Ortega posted an Instagram video Saturday wishing Volkanovski well in his recovery.
“I know you would have took the fight no matter what, even with COVID,” Ortega said. “That’s the type of human you are. I respect that. I hope you get better, I hope you heal up fast. We’ll postpone it and we’ll just reschedule it [when] we got to.
“Stay sharp. We’re staying sharp. Whenever this s— is meant to happen, it’ll happen.”
Volkanovski (22-1) has been featherweight champion since he defeated Max Holloway at UFC 245 in December 2019. He beat Holloway in a rematch at UFC 251 last July in a hotly contested, close split decision. Volkanovski, 32, is 9-0 in the UFC has not lost a fight since 2013.
Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) is coming off a bounce-back win over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung last October. The California native has just one career loss, to Holloway in a featherweight title fight in December 2018. Ortega, 30, has seven UFC wins, including six by finish.