Ariel Helwani is an MMA reporter at ESPN. Follow him on Twitter at @arielhelwani.
The repackaged UFC 249 card is down a big name.
Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is out of her scheduled co-main event bout with Jessica Andrade on April 18 for undisclosed reasons, ESPN confirmed Wednesday with sources. The card, which was fully formed earlier this week after coronavirus-related scheduled shuffling, will take place at an undisclosed location, probably on a Native American reservation in California.
ESPN has Namajunas ranked No. 5 among pound-for-pound women’s MMA fighters, and Andrade is ranked No. 7. No replacement has yet been announced to fight Andrade.
Combate first reported Namajunas’ change of plans.
Namajunas (8-4) has not fought since Andrade knocked her out via slam to win the women’s strawweight title at UFC 237 last May. The Wisconsin native had won three in a row before that, including two title-fight wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Namajunas, 27, has lost only twice in six years.
Andrade (20-7) dropped the women’s strawweight belt to Zhang Weili via first-round TKO last August. The Brazil native had won four in a row prior to that. Andrade, 28, has the most fights in UFC history among women (16) and has only two losses — Jedrzejczyk was the other — since 2015 when she competed two weight divisions heavier at bantamweight.
UFC 249 will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight involving Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Also on the card, Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a likely heavyweight title eliminator.
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