THE much-awaited Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut of Filipino-American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Mark “Mugen” Striegl did not push through at the weekend after he tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Was set to fight for the first time in the UFC’s famed Octagon on Sunday (Manila time) against fellow debutant Timur Valiev of Russia, Mr. Striegl, 32, instead saw himself needing to wait some more to fulfil his UFC dream because of the unexpected health news announced on Friday.

“I tested positive for CV19 and my August 22 UFC fight is cancelled,” Mr. Striegl (18-2) later wrote on his Instagram account.

The Fil-Am fighter was replaced in the card by American Trevin Jones.

The Valiev fight would have been the culmination of nearly a decade journey for Baguio-based Striegl to parade his wares in the UFC.

Prior to earning a shot in the UFC, Mr. Striegl did the rounds of the different promotions in Asia like the Universal Reality Combat Championship and ONE Championship.

The fight was made possible through Mr. Striegl’s representatives in the United States who gave him a call during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seeing it as a great opportunity to finally fulfil his MMA dreams, Mr. Striegl, the reigning URCC featherweight champion, decided to pack his bags for the US.

But despite his plans being scuttled by COVID-19, Mr. Striegl remains upbeat and is looking forward to bouncing back whenever cleared to return just as he encouraged others to stay safe amid the uncertain times.

“You can never be too careful these days. Thankfully, my symptoms are mild and I’m looking forward to bouncing back!” he said.

Meanwhile, Striegl replacement Jones defeated Mr. Valiev in impressive fashion, winning by technical knockout (punches) in the second round.

Struggled early on, Mr. Jones came back strong in the second round, connecting on a solid right hook to the jaw that sent the Russian to the canvas and signalled the end for the latter.

Also victorious was UFC legend Frankie Edgar, who defeated Pedro Munhoz in their headlining bantamweight fight by split decision, 48-47, 46-49 and 48-47. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo