Go back a couple months, and it felt like the UFC was primed to put together a rock solid PPV event for their first return to Sydney, Australia in more than half a decade. Unfortunately for the promotion, the linchpin of their plan revolved around some exceptionally optimistic fight booking.
Just a month and a half ago, the UFC held a middleweight top contender’s bout between Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis. The intention being that the winner would be ready to face Israel Adesanya for the title belt in early September. A mere two-month turnaround for a massive opportunity.
To the promotion’s luck, Dricus Du Plessis beat Whittaker in spectacular fashion, positioning him perfectly to turn his ongoing war of words with Adesanya into an electric PPV buildup. But, it turns out that the UFC’s ambitious plan was exactly as flawed as it sounded, with the South African notifying the Endeavor-owned sports-entertainment property shortly after his victory, that he would not be healthy enough in time to fight for gold.
Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus Du Plessis was the first big hit to UFC 293. ‘Stillknocks’ getting replaced by Sean Strickland has done little to alleviate that feeling. Now, unfortunately we’ve got another.
Kai Kara-France out of UFC 293 due to concussion
Alongside Adesanya, one of the other major regional draws expected for the card was former interim flyweight title challenger Kai Kara-France. A training partner to the ‘Last Stylebender’, ‘Don’t Blink’ has carved out a reputation as an action-forward fan-favorite over his 11-bout Octagon run. His planned fight against former RIZIN bantamweight champion Manel Kape seemed primed for violence.
On Monday, August 21st, however—in a video released to his Instagram account—the 30-year-old New Zealander revealed that he had suffered a concussion in training and was forced to withdraw from the bout.
“I just wanted to come on here and give you guys an update,” Kara-France announced. “So, unfortunately, I’ve had to withdraw from my next fight, in Sydney, Australia—UFC 293. I suffered a concussion over the weekend at training and I’ve been speaking to my coaches, my team, and my family, and they all think it’s the right decision to put my health first. Just want to say sorry to all the friends and family that bought tickets and accommodation; all the fans that were excited to see me fight live. I’m gutted that I won’t be a part of this card.
“It’s been a tough week, with my second son being born, as well as me pulling out of this fight; mixed emotions, frustrated. But, I’ve just got to focus on the positives and just spend time with my loved ones. Appreciate the ongoing support and we’ll be back soon.”
Manel Kape gets replacement fight
Fortunately for Kape, he didn’t have to wait long to get a replacement bout to ensure he’ll be staying on the UFC 293 fight card. MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz reports that the UFC has tabbed upcoming Dana White’s Contender Series talent Felipe dos Santos to step in for the injured City Kickboxing star.
At just 22-years-of-age ‘Lipe Detona’ will hit the Octagon with a perfect 7-0 record, fighting out of Charles Oliveira’s Chute Boxe Diego Lima fight team. The Brazilian had been set to take on onetime UFC fighter Edgar Chairez on next week’s DWCS fight card, but instead has his chance to make a huge step up this coming September 10th. The fight cancellation also appears to have led to Chairez getting another shot with the world’s largest MMA promotion. The Entram Gym talent is now set to take on Daniel Lacerda on the UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 card next month.
While Kape will still get his chance to show his skills inside the Octagon, that hasn’t stopped the Angolan-born fighter from sharing a few choice words with Kara France over his decision to withdraw from their bout.
Kape has even gone so far as to suggest that fighters who withdraw from bouts too near the actual fight date should suffer extra financial penalties (beyond not getting paid, I guess?) for their decisions.
It’s an obviously terrible idea, but it’s hard not to have some sympathy for Kape’s plight, as he’s seen six UFC bookings in just 3 years fall apart due to injuries suffered by his opponents. Hopefully Felipe dos Santos stays healthy enough to make it to the cage on fight night.
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