One of the two UFC 215 championship fights scheduled to take place Saturday in Edmonton has been cancelled due to illness.
Late Thursday night, UFC announced challenger Ray Borg was deemed unfit to compete by the UFC medical team, due to a viral illness. The nature of the illness was not disclosed.
Borg was set to take on flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at UFC 215 at Edmonton’s Rogers Place downtown arena.
Johnson’s trainer Matt Hume responded to the situation on Facebook, saying, “We are beyond disappointed that we won’t be able to accomplish the goal this Saturday, but the end result is inevitable. We will refocus and show the world the greatest Mixed Martial Artist that ever existed.”
Some fans in Edmonton also feel a bit let down.
“It’s just a disappointment of not seeing what I was hoping to see,” Noel Tidory said.
“It’s not the same but it’s still going to be a pretty good show. I’m just happy to have UFC over in our city. It took a long time.”
Ariel Helwani has covered UFC for years. He says MMA fans are used to these last-minute card changes.
“I think fans, even though they may be disappointed, aren’t going to flock to refund the tickets just because it’s just such a special thing and they don’t get this kind of event here all that often.”
UFC 215 will now be headlined by the women’s bantamweight championship between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko. Their fight will proceed as one of 11 bouts on the card. Edmonton’s Mitch Clarke will also fight.
“We’ve got to remember that there’s 10 or 11 other fights on the card and there’s good fights on that card,” said Shara Vigeant, an MMA trainer with SVPT Fitness. “If you’re a true MMA fan, you’re going to go there and support those fighters.”
Earlier on Thursday, all four title fighters, including Borg, appeared at Rogers Place for open workouts and media interviews.
UFC said moving to the pay-per-view main card will be the flyweight bout between Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis. Additionally, the Mitch Clarke and Alex White lightweight contest will now kick off the FS1 prelims.
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The pay-per-view event will be broadcast in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Johnson is currently at the top of his game and is considered to be the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. He was looking to set a UFC record for title defenses at 11 with a victory in Edmonton. He is the first, current, and only UFC flyweight champion.
UFC said with the removal of Johnson vs. Borg, customers may request a full refund of purchased tickets at point of sale.
The UFC has held 23 events in Canada in nine cities, including Calgary in 2012 which hosted UFC 149.
— With files from Kent Morrison