Breaking: Volkanovski vs Ortega cancelled following Riddell

Breaking news: Volkanovski vs Ortega has also been cancelled in the wake of Brad Riddell’s fight cancellation this morning.

A tearful Brad Riddell was said to be calling friends, family and teammates this morning to share the news that he would not be taking to the octagon this evening. Reports were made this morning that the fight between Riddell and fellow UFC Lightweight Gregor Gillespie had been postponed due to an “undisclosed breach of Covid protocols” however sources inside CKB have told NZ Fighter that it wasn’t a breach, rather the fight was set aside after the kiwi fighter and other members of the CKB team showed symptoms similar to Covid.

The fight was set to take place today in Las Vegas as the co-main event to the Middleweight bout between Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland. Brunson and Holland will be known to kiwi fight fans with Brunson having been KO’d in the rise of kiwi superstar Israel Adesanya and with news out this week of Holland taking verbal jabs at the middleweight champion.

With the Volkanovski fight also being cancelled, its becoming clear that multiple members of the CKB team may well be showing symptoms of Covid. It’s possible that Riddell’s symptoms were simply “fighters flu”, the common expression for flu like symptoms sometimes experienced by fighters during a weight cut. The UFC weren’t taking any chances though with Las Vegas having experienced significant lockdowns since the pandemic began and the local Clark County having reported over two-hundred thousand cases alone.

It’s understood that all members of the CKB team in camp now in Vegas, including Riddell, Volkanovski and Shane Young are now being tested and treated as if they do have the deadly disease which has caused lockdowns across the globe.

Riddell would likely have found himself finally within the top 15 rankings if he was able to secure a statement victory of wrestling specialist Gillespie. Speaking earlier in the week the kiwi lightweight said he was excited for a “clash of styles” and the opportunity to test his wrestling against the former all-American.

Volkanovski was set to defend his UFC Featherweight title next weekend against UFC superstar Brian Ortega. The fight would mark his second title defence, after winning and defending the title against Max Holloway.

The UFC is apparently working to try and reschedule the Riddell fight within the coming weeks, though further information on a likely date is currently unavailable and news is only just emerging about Volkanovski’s title defence. It’s an enormously upsetting turn of events for Riddell who will likely have to spend the next seven weeks in the US regardless of whether the fight can be rescheduled or not due to limited availability of quarantine hotels. There is hope that should a travel bubble open up between New Zealand and Australia over then next few weeks it might free up hotel space allowing the kiwi fighter to return home earlier than planned. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.

Riddell spoke to NZ Fighter about his wrestling skills a year ago ahead of his only UFC fight in New Zealand.

Written by Jamie Patterson

Jamie Patterson is the Creative Director for New Zealand Fighter. Jamie has been involved with boxing and martial arts for most of his life. He boxed as a teenager and competed in point fighting whilst at University. As a photographer Jamie has taken pictures at some of the largest boxing and MMA events in the country in recent years. Jamie has been a professional writer working in advertising and television for almost a decade and brings a wealth of creative experience to the team.