Positive COVID-19 Test Ejects Cynthia Calvillo From UFC 254, Shakirova in vs. Murphy

By Jay Pettry Oct 16, 2020

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The hits keep coming for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s next pay-per-view offering.

Due to a failed COVID-19 test, Cynthia Calvillo has been forced to pull out of her UFC 254 main card bout against Lauren Murphy (13-4). The news was first reported by ESPN on Thursday night, and later confirmed by Calvillo. Stepping up on just over a week’s notice is newcomer Liliya Shakirova (8-1) per theScore. Shakirova will actually be the second replacement option, as the first undisclosed opponent also tested positive for COVID-19, according to Murphy. It has not yet been made official whether the matchup will take place at flyweight or a catchweight.

Murphy will be looking to improve her win streak to four and try to clinch a flyweight title shot with a victory. “Lucky” has rattled off a trio of wins since August 2019 including a knockout of Mara Romero Borella as well as decisions over Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi. A one-time Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight champ, Murphy came to the UFC in the 135-pound division but lost three of four to precipitate a move to flyweight. Since then, the Alaskan has prevailed in four of five bouts.

Shakirova will be making her debut after over a year away from the sport. The Uzbekistan native has won three straight, including knockouts of Aigul Khabirova and Aygul Abduvakhid in 2018 and 2019, respectively. She started off her career at a perfect 5-0, with her fifth win coming over current One Championship competitor Meng Bo, before dropping a decision to Julia Borisova in 2018.

UFC 254 is holding itself together at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 24, with a lightweight championship unification match headlining between champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim titleholder Justin Gaethje. Drawing the co-main assignment is a potential middleweight title eliminator bout as Robert Whittaker faces Jared Cannonier, while a heavyweight pairing of Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris anchors the main card.

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