Rose Namajunas withdraws from UFC 249 fight card

Former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas has withdrawn from UFC 249 for undisclosed reasons. The 27-year old was scheduled to face fellow former champion Jessica Andrade in the fight card’s co-main event on April 18.

The news was first reported by Combate and later confirmed by ESPN. The full UFC 249 fight card was released earlier this week, but the location has yet to be revealed. It’s expected to take place on a Native American reservation in California, but the fight promotion hasn’t announced the venue.

Namajunas (8-4) last fought at UFC 237 in May 2019 losing the belt to Andrade (20-7) by knockout.  Andrade was defeated in her first title defense by current titleholder Weili Zhang last August.  Andrade is the top ranked contender in the strawweight division while Namajuas is ranked No. 2.  The rematch would have set the winner up to face Zhang in their next outing. 

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UFC 249 is headlined by a interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.  Ferguson was originally slated to face champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Nurmagomedov remains in Russia due to travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Initially slated to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the UFC 249 fight card has been quickly evolving ever since UFC President Dana White insisted it would take place “somewhere on Earth” on April 18.

With the pandemic and its ensuing restrictions sweeping the globe, the hurdles to clear in simply getting enough fighters all in one place at the same time to hold the card have been numerous. 

“(Khabib) got caught up in Russia. It was a total mishap. We all made mistakes in that one. Nobody is to blame for that. It is what it is. The fact that we can even pull off an event right now…” White said in an ESPN interview on Monday. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”