The UFC’s final pay-per-view event of the year appears to be jinxed by call-offs, with Robbie Lawler now having pulled out of his main card fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC 282 on Saturday night.
At this stage the exact nature of Lawler’s injury hasn’t been disclosed, but meanwhile the UFC have quickly scrambled to find a suitable opponent to keep Ponzinibbio on the weakened card, with Alex Morono now confirmed to have stepped in on short-notice.
The 40-year-old former welterweight champion Lawler had been heading into the fight with just one win to show from his last six UFC appearances, including being TKO’d by Bryan Barberena last time out.
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Ponzinibbio has also had his own struggles with just one win from his last four fights, though he had only narrowly come out on the wrong end of split decision verdicts in his last two bouts against Geoff Neal and Michel Pereira.
As for his new opponent, the 32-year-old Morono is in fine form with four victories in a row over the past couple of years, but this isn’t an easy fight to step into on just a few days notice.
Lawler’s withdrawal comes after the originally scheduled UFC 282 main event light-heavyweight title rematch between Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira was scrapped after the champion suffered a serious shoulder injury that’s also forced him to vacate the belt. As such the original co-main event pairing of Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev now takes main event status in a fight for the vacant title.
That’s not been the only headache for the matchmakers though as Ovince Saint Preux saw three opponents in Alexander Gustafsson, Phillipe Lins and Antonio Trocoli all withdraw from fighting him, while highly regarded Contender Series prospect Bo Nickal also pulled out of his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett due to an injury.