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Paige VanZant withdraws from UFC 216 bout with back injury

Updated September 25, 2017 - 5:50 pm

UFC veteran Jessica Eye has lost another opportunity to fight in Las Vegas.

Paige VanZant, Eye’s opponent for UFC 216 on Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena, has withdrawn from the bout because of a back injury.

UFC officials confirmed the news Monday.

The fight was supposed to serve as the first appearance at 125 pounds for both fighters in the UFC, which is adding the flyweight division for women. The inaugural champion will be determined by a tournament being contested on “The Ultimate Fighter.”

VanZant or Eye were expected to vault into title contention with a win at UFC 216.

Eye, who has lost her past four fights at 135 pounds, was set to drop down to her natural weight class for the first time. She was scheduled to fight Aspen Ladd in July at T-Mobile Arena, but Ladd became sick hours before the fight and withdrew.

“Damn it,” Eye posted to Twitter on Monday morning upon learning the news of Van Zant’s injury, alongside a GIF of a pouting child.

VanZant, one of the UFC’s more popular fighters, has lost two of her past three bouts after winning four straight.

The weight cuts to 115 pounds had grown increasingly difficult, a factor at least partially responsible for her decision to move up to the new flyweight division.

UFC 216 is headlined by an interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Las Vegan Kevin Lee, and includes flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson’s attempt to set the organization’s record for consecutive title defenses when he fights Ray Borg.

Murzakanov flagged by USADA

Light heavyweight Azamat Murzakanov is dealing with a potential violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy, even though he has yet to debut in the organization.

The undefeated Russian prospect was signed this year and scheduled to face Joachim Christensen at UFC Fight Night 112 in June, but Murzakanov pulled out of the bout because of injury.

Murzakanov had yet to be booked for another fight.

He was told Monday an out-of-competition sample collected Sept. 2 had been flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. USADA will handle the adjudication of the matter.

Brown set for final fight

UFC veteran welterweight Matt Brown announced his UFC Fight Night 120 bout against Diego Sanchez will be the final one of his career.

“(This) will be my retirement fight,” Brown wrote on Instagram with a picture of the event poster. “Thanks for enjoying the ride with me this will be an amazing show. Me and Diego will put on a show for all of you.”

Brown is 20-16 in a professional career that began in 2005. He has dropped three straight fights and five of six.

UFC Fight Night 120 is scheduled for Nov. 11 in Norfolk, Virginia. It’s headlined by a lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and former champion Anthony Pettis.

Bellator welterweight title bout set

Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima finally have a date for their Bellator welterweight title bout.

MacDonald, a UFC veteran who signed with Bellator last year and debuted with a second-round submission of Paul Daley in May, will challenge Lima for the belt Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Lima won the belt with a knockout of Andrey Koreshkov in 2016 and retained it in June with a unanimous decision over Lorenz Larkin, another high-profile free-agent signing from the UFC.

Condit seeks return

Carlos Condit, a former UFC interim welterweight champion and longtime World Extreme Cagefighting champ, is ready to fight again.

The 33-year-old was leaning toward retirement after losing back-to-back fights to Robbie Lawler and Demian Maia in 2016, citing years of damage to his body and brain.

But Condit appears to have had second thoughts, tweeting last week at UFC matchmakers: “I’m wanting to fight in December or January. What say you?!”

The New Mexico native last fought in August 2016.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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