The 157-pound catchweight bout has been officially added to Saturday’s card in Abu Dhabi following the removal of Tsarukyan and Frevola’s originally scheduled opponents, Nasrat Haqparast and Ottman Azaitar, respectively.
Azaitar’s removal was announced early at Friday’s weigh-ins, though a reason was not initially given. The UFC later released a statement stating that Azaitar had violated COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
See the official statement here:
UFC is aware of a recent violation of the health and safety protocols involving Ottman Azaitar. As such, Azaitar has been removed from the safety zone and his upcoming bout against Matt Frevola has been canceled.
The organization continues to keep the health and safety of all participants as the top priority and will take action against anyone that does not adhere to the strict measures put in place.
Tsarukyan also found himself without an opponent when Haqparast failed to show up to weigh in during the scheduled two-hour window. According to the UFC, Haqparast withdrew due to an illness.
Complicating matters, Tsarukyan missed weight himself, coming in at 159 pounds, three pounds over the lightweight limits. In Haqparast’s absence, it was reported that Frevola was negotiating a bout with Tsarukyan, but nothing could be made official until Tsarukyan took additional time to attempt a second weigh-in. Tsarukyan came in at 157 pounds, still one pound over the limit, but Frevola’s team accepted the catchweight bout with Tsarukyan forfeiting 20 percent of his purse to Frevola.
The Tsarukyan-Frevola negotiations were first reported by TSN.
See the updated UFC 257 card below:
Main card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Preliminary card (ESPN, ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
Early Prelims (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)