Valiev, Borg, Spicely Withdraw from UFC Fight Night 173; Replacements Found

By Jay Pettry Jul 31, 2020

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The last 12 hours have been wild for Ultimate Fighting Championship ahead of its return to the UFC Apex.

Late Thursday night, MMA Junkie reported that Timur Valiev was forced to pull out of his featherweight clash with Jamall Emmers (17-5) at UFC Fight Night 173. His withdrawal – and the others that followed -- was confirmed by the promotion on Friday, with visa issues the reason the Russian could no longer compete. In his stead will be Vince Cachero (7-2), and the two will be squaring off at featherweight.

“Lucky” does not find himself as lucky, as he was looking to make his UFC debut after a long stretch with World Series of Fighting and then the Professional Fighters League. The Russian wrestler has won his last six, and avenged his only loss in that promotion by dominant decision. It is unclear when Valiev will be able to make his debut.

Legacy Fighting Alliance vet Cachero rebounded from a pair of losses to knock out Marvin Garcia in January. “The Anomaly” took seven of his nine career fights under the LFA banner, and only four fighters – Bobby Lee, Brandon Royval, Damon Jackson and Nate Jennerman – have competed more times inside the LFA cage than Hawaii’s Cachero. His bout with Garcia came at a 150-pound catchweight after former opponent Isaiah Batin-Gonzalez fell out of their contest.

Valiev was not the only fighter knocked out of his match on Saturday. First to break this news on Friday morning was MMA Junkie, who announced that Ray Borg would no longer be competing at this event due to undisclosed reasons. It was later noted that Borg’s withdrawal was related to “bad luck,” but like Valiev, the promotion found a suitable replacement for Joseph Nathan Maness (11-1). This is now the ninth time Borg has pulled out of a UFC fight, which ties him for the record for the most all-time with Thiago Alves.

Taking on Maness will be the fellow debutant and King of the Cage mainstay Johnny Munoz Jr. (10-0) in the featherweight division. Munoz’ entire career has taken place on the KOTC roster, notching eight finishes across his 10 career wins. “Kid Kvenbo” won the KOTC bantamweight belt at KOTC: Golden Era in June after a sea of controversy, and his last bout came in a 140-pound catchweight. This will be Munoz’ first appearance in the 145-pound division.

Finally, Eric Spicely is out of his middleweight battle with Markus Perez due to complications from his weight cut. Like the previous two withdrawal stories, MMA Junkie was the first outlet to release this information. Spicely posted the specifics of his situation, which came about due to new antidepressants that he started taking after his match with Deron Winn. Spicely made it to the final bell against Winn, but took enough head trauma in the fight that he needed to start taking antidepressants, which Spicely claimed made his weight cut go “horribly wrong.”

Stepping up on short notice against Perez is Fury Fighting Championship vet Charlie Ontiveros (11-6), and they should be competing at a catchweight around 195 pounds. Ontiveros has won his last two by first-round knockout, needing a combined 3:35 to dispatch Derrick Ageday with a flying knee and Washington Luiz in a one-punch knockout. Ontiveros is also part of one of the more unusual MMA events the last several years, as he faced Clovis Hancock at LFA 26. In that bout, Hancock’s heart stopped for several minutes, and he needed to be resuscitated in the cage. Because of this incident, Ontiveros holds what may be a unique victory in the sport by TKO (Heart Stopped). Hancock has gone on to make a full recovery.

UFC Fight Night 173 goes down on Aug. 1 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Headlining the snakebitten card is a three-round middleweight bout between Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan. Elevated to the co-main event is a women’s flyweight tilt pitting Joanne Calderwood against Jennifer Maia.

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