UFC 288 fights cancelled at the last minute

The next UFC pay-per-view (UFC 288) is down to 12 fights now after two bouts were cancelled within 24 hours.

By: Kristen King | 3 weeks ago
UFC 288 fights cancelled at the last minute
The UFC loses 2 fights at UFC 288 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

The UFC has lost two fights in less than 24 hours. Daniel Santos vs. Johnny Muñoz Jr. and Rafael Estevam vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov were set for UFC 288, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for May 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. However, those fights were canceled recently. 

Bantamweight banger Daniel Santos vs. Johnny Muñoz Jr. off UFC 288

On Thursday, the promotion announced that Santos was forced to withdraw against Muñoz Jr. after suffering an injury. ‘Willycat’ revealed an abscess on his leg was what led to his withdrawal. 

“Hey guys, first I want to thank God, all my training partners and the UFC medical team for all the support they are giving me here in Newark,” wrote Santos. “I arrived well, 100 percent ready to take the weight off. During training and the weight loss process, an abscess came out on my leg. Due to the pain and the degree of inflammation, the UFC medical team made me rehydrate to start with antibiotics to treat the infection and allergy. Soon I will be 100 percent, ready to go out. Thanks everyone for the messages.” 

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The Brazilian had a rough start to his UFC tenure. More than a year after signing with the promotion, Santos debuted against Julio Arce at UFC 273, where he lost via unanimous decision. He rebounded with a ‘Fight of the Night’ awarded appearance against John Castañeda, finishing ’Sexi Mexi’ via second-round (T)KO. 

Muñoz Jr. has alternated wins and losses in his past four appearances. ‘Kid Kvenbo’ defeated Liudvik Sholinian via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 64 this past November. Following the win, Muñoz Jr. revealed he re-signed with the UFC, with Santos being the first fight of his new four-fight contract. 

Whether the UFC reschedules Santos vs. Muñoz Jr. remains to be seen. 

Flyweights Rafael Estevam and Zhalgas Zhumagulov also removed

On Friday, Rafael Estevam vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov was scrapped during the official weigh-ins. UFC play-by-play announcer Jon Anik revealed Estevam had ‘weight management issues’ that led to his fight with Zhumagulov getting canceled. The latter successfully weighed in at 125.5 pounds. 

Following a successful appearance on Contender Series, Estevam was scheduled for his debut against Carlos Candelario at UFC Vegas 71 this past April. However, that fight was canceled due to a Candelario injury. 

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Zhumagulov was hoping to snap a three-fight losing streak. The Kazakh fighter fell short against Manel Kape, Jeff Molina and Charles Johnson, the latter of which saw him announce his retirement. Zhumagulov would return, getting paired with Nate Maness for UFC 288, but that was scrapped due to a Maness injury. Estevam was tapped as a short-notice replacement.

The current state of UFC 288

After these cancelations, UFC 288 moves forward with 12 fights. In our headliner, reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling goes for his third defense against Henry Cejudo, the former two-division UFC champion who returns after a nearly three-year layoff. In our co-headliner, Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns vie for a potential shot at current UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards in a title eliminator.

Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates to UFC 288 as they become available.

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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