One day after her reported withdrawal for “undisclosed reasons,” Namajunas’ rep issued a statement via Instagram to clear the air. He said Namajunas lost two family members as the result of the coronavirus and asked fans for their privacy.
Additional details on the circumstances of Namajunas’ withdrawal were not immediately available.
Namajunas was half of the April 18 pay-per-view event’s co-headliner, facing off with fellow ex-champ Jessica Andrade in a rematch 11 months after Andrade took the belt in a violent win. A slam from the Brazilian left Namajunas unconscious after a strong opening round.
According to Combate, which originally reported Namajunas’ withdrawal, the promotion is currently seeking a replacement opponent for Andrade, who flew to the U.S. on short notice to avoid any potential complications due to travel restrictions from the coronavirus.
Part of Andrade’s training camp took place in her garage as her gym was subject to the same shutdown as MMA gyms around the world.
Namajunas was offered a title shot against current champ Zhang Weili, but she instead chose to face Andrade. She spoke of being in a better place through the use of a mental coach, which helped her overcome doubts about her fighting future.
The UFC 249 event has lost several fighters due to travel restrictions imposed on international fighters as well as injuries. The event is expected to take place at Tachi Palace Resort Casino in Lemoore, Calif., though the promotion has not confirmed its location. The promotion plans to test all attendees for COVID-19 before and prior to the event.