Hours before it was set to go down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, UFC 213 lost it’s headlining bout after women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes pulled out due to illness. It’s a story that’s all too familiar to fans of MMA, who have witnessed more than their fair share of last minute bout cancellations to this sort of thing. The usual culprit: weight cutting, which all fighters engage in to one degree or another. When it’s too high of a degree, fighters pass out in the sauna or in front of doctors. They end up in the emergency room. Their fights are called off.
That appears to be the case with Amanda Nunes, but an interesting wrinkle in the story has UFC president Dana White seemingly questioning whether Nunes is really too ill to fight. It started with this tweet from LA Times reporter Lance Pugmire:
White later went on Sportscenter to expand on that tweet.
“Yesterday she started to not feel good, so we took her to the hospital,” he said. “Dr. Davidson who is our doctor here in Las Vegas who’s fantastic and handles all the fighters did a full evaluation of her, and she was medically cleared to fight. So she did the weigh-ins yesterday, she made weight. She weighed in at the ceremonial weigh-ins and squared off with Shevchenko, then went home last night. This morning she called again and said she didn’t feel good so they brought her back in and started running tests on her.”
“She said she didn’t want to fight. She didn’t feel good and didn’t want to fight. She was medically cleared to fight. She was checked and everything was fine, but she said she didn’t feel right.”
It’s actually not that unusual for White and the UFC to throw their fighters under the bus in situations like this. When Khabib Nurmagomedov ended up in a hospital leading up to the UFC 209 weigh-in, White said the fight could have been saved if the Russian fighter had reported to doctors associated with the UFC rather than ‘going rogue.’ When Renan Barao passed out leading up to his title defense against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 177, they sat him down with Joe Rogan on live TV to explain to the fans how he screwed up his cut.
And now this. We’re not sure exactly what questioning Nunes’ willingness to fight is supposed to accomplish. We doubt very much that Amanda is afraid to fight Valentina Shevchenko, a woman she fought and beat before a mere year and a half ago. And we’re not really sure why the UFC would try to pressure a fighter into competing when they’re not feeling capable of performing. But that’s exactly what the UFC is doing, and sadly it’s pretty par for the course.