Just as weigh-ins for UFC on ESPN 18 were about to begin, it was announced that one-half of the night’s main event would be unable to compete. Curtis Blaydes has tested positive for COVID-19, so his scheduled fight against Derrick Lewis is now off. It provides a big blow to an already-depleted card, which will now be headlined by a light heavyweight matchup between Anthony Smith and Devin Clark. ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani was the first to report the news.
The main event of #UFCVegas15 is off after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources told @arielhelwani.
UFC is hoping to reschedule Lewis vs. Blaydes in December. pic.twitter.com/tGBLQq4JCT
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 27, 2020
Curtis Blaydes Out of UFC on ESPN 18 Main Event
The Blaydes-Lewis main event was set to be a pivotal matchup in the heavyweight division. Both fighters are ranked within the division’s top five, and the winner would have boosted their case for a title shot. It was also set to be somewhat of a grudge match, as there has been some back-and-forth between the two in the lead-up to this point. Fans will now, however, have to wait a little bit longer to watch this much-anticipated bout. UFC officials are now supposedly looking to rebook the fight for an event next month.
Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark New UFC on ESPN 18 Main Event
With the last minute change, the UFC has bumped the originally-scheduled co-main event between Smith and Clark to the main event. The fight will presumably still be a three-round affair given the last-minute notice.
After losing a light heavyweight title match against Jon Jones early last year, Smith has gone 1-2. He rebounded with a win over Alexander Gustafsson last June, but it has been rough going for him since. Both of his losses to Aleksandar Rakic and Glover Teixeira have been one-sided beatdowns. He will look to get back on track against Clark, who has won two straight against Dequan Townsend and Alonzo Menifield. “Brown Bear” Clark is moving toward contendership, and a win over Smith would go a long way towards cementing that status.