"Super" Sage Northcutt (11-3-0) won't be fighting Shinya Aoki (46-9-0) on the April 28 One Championship show airing on TNT, after all.
ESPN's Marc Raimondi reported Monday morning that the popular former top-tier UFC prospect is off the card taking place later this month due to the lingering impacts of a COVID-19 infection. Eduard Folayang (22-8-0), who split two previous contests versus Aoki, is replacing the 25-year-old American once seen as a potential future face of mixed martial arts.
Northcutt hasn't competed since suffering a 29-second knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre in May 2019 that left him with eight facial fractures. He parted ways with the UFC to sign with One in the fall of 2018.
Positive COVID-19 test results and confirmed virus bouts have hovered over the sport throughout the past year as the UFC has held events beginning last May through this spring heading into the summer. Most notably, undefeated UFC welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) had to withdraw from a contest versus Leon Edwards on multiple occasions because of the coronavirus and, as ESPN's Brett Okamoto explained, hinted at an early retirement in March due to the lasting effects of his illness.
Chimaev has since vowed to return to the octagon this summer.
UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski recently revealed he was hospitalized with pneumonia while battling COVID-19