UFC 249: Rose Namajunas pulled out after family members died from coronavirus-related illness

Jack de Menezes
Rose Namajunas lost two family members to the coronavirus pandemic and withdrew from UFC 249: AFP via Getty

Former Ultimate Fighting Champion Rose Namajunas withdrew from the now-cancelled UFC 249 event after two of her family members died due to illnesses related to coronavirus.

UFC president Dana White confirmed that pressure from broadcaster’s ESPN and owner’s Disney resulted in a U-turn to cancel next weekend’s event, which was due to go ahead in California despite the coronavirus pandemic that has now seen the United States classified as the new epicentre.

Former UFC strawweight women’s champion Namajunas was due to face Jessica Andrade in the co-main event, a rematch of their UFC 237 encounter when Andrade took the championship off Namajunas after knocking her out. But the fight was scrapped on Thursday night when it was revealed that Namajunas had withdrawn, with her manager confirming that the decision was for compassionate reasons after two fatalities within her family.

“Rose withdrew from UFC 249 due to two deaths in the family related to the Coronavirus,” said Brian Butler, Namajunas’s manager, when speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.

“She hopes to return to the octagon as soon as possible but for now, we ask for people to respect their privacy during this time.”

The Tachi Palace Casino Resort is owned by the Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Tachi Yokut Tribe, and White confirmed that he plans to stage a “big fight” in the future at the Casino Resort as gratitude for them coming to the UFC’s aid at short notice.

“Tachi Palace has had our back this whole time, has stood their ground and was willing to do this fight,” White added. “Let me tell you this, when the world gets back to normal the California event will be at Tachi Palace.

“I’m doing a fight there, I’m bringing them a big fight and I appreciate them standing with me in this thing.”

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