Just 48 hours after the UFC 249 fight card was made official, co-main eventer Rose Namajus withdrew from the event for undisclosed reasons. Well, the reason on Thursday was disclosed by her manager, Brian Butler-Au of SuckerPunch Entertainment.
“Rose Namajunas withdrew from UFC 249 due to 2 deaths in the family related to the Coronavirus.”
Namajunas had been slated to face Jessica Andrade in a rematch of their title bout from UFC 237, where the Brazilian took the strawweight title. Though Namajunas was performing well in the early going, midway through the second round, Andrade scooped her up and slammed her to the canvas, leaving her unconscious.
That was in May of 2019. Andrade would go on to lose the belt to current champion Zhang Weili in August.
Zhang has since defended the belt against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The UFC 249 co-main event was expected to be an elimination bout with the winner going on to be Zhang’s next challenger.
Following Namajunas’s withdrawal on Wednesday, Butler-Au posted an official statement to the SuckerPunch Entertainment Instagram account on Thursday revealing the reasoning behind her withdrawal.
“Rose Namajunas withdrew from UFC 249 due to 2 deaths in the family related to the Coronavirus,” Butler-Au stated. “Her hopes are to return to the Octagon as soon as possible, but for now we ask for people to respect their privacy during this time.”
It is certainly a trying time for everyone across the globe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. But that could only be made more profound with pandemic-related deaths in her family.
Though the bout has been removed from the UFC website, officials had yet to comment on Namajunas’s withdrawal and what that means for the possibility of keeping Andrade on the already revamped UFC 249 fight card. With little more than a week left until fight time, even under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to find a worthy replacement in such a bout. With the restrictions imposed because of a global pandemic and the UFC actually holding the event at an as yet undisclosed location, the complexity of replacing a fighter like Namajunas increases infinitely.