LOS ANGELES — The manager of Rose Namajunas says the former UFC strawweight champion won't fight at UFC 249 on April 18 after two deaths in her family related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brian Butler posted the news on Instagram on Thursday.
“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,” he wrote.
Namajunas (8-4) was scheduled for a rematch with former champion Jéssica Andrade in the penultimate bout of UFC 249. Andrade (20-7) beat Namajunas last May to claim the title, but subsequently lost it to current champ Zhang Weili.
The UFC didn't immediately announce a replacement opponent for Andrade.
Namajunas, who is well known among UFC fans for her shaved head and “Thug Rose” nickname, became the third strawweight champion in UFC history when she upset Joanna Jedrzejczyk in November 2017. She is a Milwaukee native who lives and trains in Colorado.
Despite thorough upheaval on the card and major logistical hurdles, UFC President Dana White remains determined to hold a pay-per-view fight card and several additional shows while all other major sports organizations worldwide have come to a halt.
White still hasn’t officially disclosed the location for UFC 249, but it is expected to be held at an arena on tribal lands in California. ESPN will broadcast the show, which will be headlined by an interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
The main event of UFC 249 was changed last week when lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped out and was replaced by Gaethje.
Nurmagomedov left the U.S. when UFC 249 was moved out of Brooklyn and was briefly slated to be held in the United Arab Emirates. Nurmagomedov returned to his native Russia when that plan was scrapped, and the unbeaten champ is either unable or unwilling to leave again due to the pandemic.
White has said he intends to hold UFC 249 and several additional shows in an empty arena with minimal personnel around the cage. He also claims to be planning extensive health screening measures, but hasn't gone into details.