The two lightweight fighters will collide Nov. 12 at UFC 281, set for Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight comes 22 months after they were initially expected to face off at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.
Frevola announced the booking Saturday on social media in … creative fashion.
In January 2021, the UFC had COVID-19 protocols that included a testing bubble. When Azaitar and his team snuck out of the bubble to retrieve a bag, he was caught by UFC staffers. The promotion later canceled the fight.
Initially, UFC president Dana White told MMA Junkie’ Farah Hannoun he was unhappy with the breach of safety protocols and that Azaitar would never fight in the UFC again.
“He and his team cut their wristbands off and got them to people on the outside, one guy,” White said. “This guy got inside the bubble, went in through a room, shimmied down four balconies, went in through (Azaitar’s) balcony, and dropped off a bag of we don’t know what. Then he changed his clothes and went back outside of the bubble. We got everything on camera, we saw the whole thing, and how it all went down, pulled his fight and cut him.”
White ultimately changed his mind and Azaitar was not released.
Due to the unusual nature of the situation, fight fans speculated in the weeks that followed what was in the bag. Eventually, Azaitar’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, said that potatoes were in the bag.
Azaitar (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) hasn’t competed since the incident. His most recent fight was in September 2020. His two UFC wins to date were first-round knockouts against Teemu Packalen and Khama Worthy. Eleven of his 13 professional victories have come inside the distance.
In January, Frevola (9-3-1 MMA, 3-3-1 UFC) bounced back from a two-fight skid when he dropped UFC newcomer Genaro Valdez four times before he finished the fight with strikes in Round 1. In the months that followed, Frevola campaigned for a fight against Paddy Pimblett but then changed his tune and lobbied for a bout in his home state of New York instead. His second wish has come true.
With the addition, the UFC 281 lineup includes:
Champion Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira – for the middleweight title
Champion Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili – for strawweight title
Erin Blanchfield vs. Molly McCann
Dominick Reyes vs. Ryan Spann
Seungwoo Choi vs. Michael Trizano
Silvana Gomez Juarez vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Renato Moicano vs. Brad Riddell
Ottman Azaitar vs. Matt Frevola