UFC 303: Brian Ortega out, Dan Ige in vs. Diego Lopes in last-minute shakeup to chaotic event

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 28:  Brian Ortega poses on the scale during the UFC 303 official weigh-ins at UFC Apex on June 28, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Brian Ortega is only the latest person to drop out of the chaotic UFC 303. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC 303 saw one last withdrawal on Saturday, with veteran featherweight Brian Ortega dropping out at the last minute and leaving the event to announce its fourth different co-main event.

Minutes before the start of the main card in Las Vegas, the UFC’s ESPN broadcast announced Ortega had withdrawn from his fight due to an illness that caused a fever of 103 degrees. His previously scheduled opponent Diego Lopes will instead face Dan Ige in the co-main event.

The co-main will now be a 165-pound catchweight bout for Lopes and Ige, who showed up to the arena and weighed in during the preliminary card. Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Jeff Mullen told ESPN that Ige was allowed to step in because he was scheduled to fight at UFC Apex in three weeks, so his medicals were already up to date.

Ortega had already caused the UFC to change the fight from featherweight to lightweight due to weight-cutting issues.

Withdrawals have been a recurring theme for UFC 303. The event was initially announced with a main event featuring Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon against Michael Chandler, with a co-main event between former light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill and Khalil Rountree Jr.

A tainted supplement caused Rountree to withdraw from the co-main, with Carlos Ulberg stepping in as a replacement. Then McGregor and Hill both had to withdraw with injuries, leaving the UFC to scramble. The end result was a new main event between light heavyweight champ Alex Pereira and former champ Jiří Procházka and the co-main event between Lopes and Ortega.

Ulberg was left to face Anthony Smith, until he too withdrew and was replaced by Roman Dolidze. So the top three fights on the card have now seen a total of six withdrawals.

And that’s not even the end of it, as fights between Gillian Robertson and Michelle Waterson-Gomez, Cody Durden and Carlos Hernandez, and Andrei Arlovski and Martin Buday were all scheduled and subsequently postponed or altered.

Long story short, it’s been a busy few weeks for Dana White, who also had to deal with Khamzat Chimaev withdrawing from his bout against Robert Whittaker last week. Whittaker made short work of replacement Ikram Aliskerov.

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