Mixed Martial Arts: UFC releases Ottman Azaitar for violating COVID-19 protocols in bizarre incident

Bizzar scenes occurred on Saturday (NZ Time) when Ottman Azaitar was released by the UFC for violating COVID-19 safety protocols on "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi.

Azaitar (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) had been scheduled to fight Matt Frevola at UFC 257 on Sunday, but the 30-year-old did not make it to Friday's official weigh-ins after a mistourious incident.

"He and his team cut their wristbands off and got them to people on the outside," UFC president Dana White told MMAJunkie. "This guy got inside the bubble, went in through a room, shimmied down four balconies, went in through (Azaitar's) balcony, and dropped off a bag of we don't know what. 

"Then he changed his clothes and went back outside of the bubble. 

"We got everything on camera, we saw the whole thing, and how it all went down, pulled his fight and cut him."

Azaitar scored first-round knockouts of Teemu Packalen and Khama Worthy in his first two UFC fights.

With Azaitar-Frevola pulled from the card, UFC 257 now features 11 fights. The middleweight bout between Makhmud Muradov and Andrew Sanchez has been moved from the preliminary to the main card.

Kiwi fighter Dan Hooker is the co-main event as he takes on Michael Chandler who is making his promotional debut. 

Headlining the event is the return of Connor McGregor who hasn't fought since January 2020 where he beat Donald Cerrone in round one. He'll take on Dustin Poirier in a rematch after faced off in 2014 where McGregor took the spoils with a TKO victory in round one. 

Join us for live updates on Sunday of UFC 257