Robert Drysdale (6-0) was expected to face Cody Donovan (8-3) on Nov. 16 at UFC 167 in his promotional debut, but has been removed from the fight card after a drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission indicated an elevated testosterone to epitestosterone ratio.
As a result of the test, Drysdale was denied medical clearance by the commission. UFC officials announced on Tuesday that Gian Villante, a training partner of middleweight champion Chris Weidman, has stepped up to face Donovan on short notice.
Villante (10-4) is a Strikeforce veteran. He was riding a three-fight winning streak when he made his promotional debut at UFC 159 against Ovince St. Preux. The fight was stopped in the final round when Villante suffered an eye poke and was ruled unable to continue. Because the foul was accidental and the fight was in the third round, the judges’ scorecards decided the outcome. St. Preux was declared the winner by majority decision.
Donovan had a successful UFC debut in December 2012, knocking out Nick Penner in the opening round. He was defeated by St. Preux in his last outing on Aug. 17.
This is the second time Drysdale’s UFC debut dematerialized. He was slated to face Ednaldo Oliveira at UFC 163, but was forced out of the fight due to staph infection.