In just 24 hours, the UFC on ESPN+ 21 event slated for Nov. 9 in Moscow has gotten a major makeover. Main event fighter Junior Dos Santos has withdrawn from the fight card and Greg Hardy has signed on to replace him.
The transition began about a week ago, when Dos Santos developed a severe case of cellulitis, a bacterial infection, in his leg. Though he received treatment, the infection worsened over the past week and forced him to withdraw from the fight.
Almost as quickly as Dos Santos announced his withdrawal, ESPN reported that Greg Hardy had agreed to step in and fight Alexander Volkov. The loss of Dos Santos, however, relegated the bout to co-main event status.
Hardy enters the fight coming off of a no-contest decision at this past weekend's UFC on ESPN 6 in Boston. He had initially earned a unanimous decision victory over Ben Sosoli. The outcome of the bout was changed after the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission ruled that Hardy had used an inhaler in between rounds 2 and 3 without the proper consent from the commission.
"This was Greg's idea," Hardy's manager, Malki Kawa of First Round Management, told ESPN. "He trains with Junior Dos Santos at American Top Team and saw that he was sick. He called me up and asked what I thought about him fighting Volkov. I actually didn't like the fight for him, I thought maybe it was too soon, but Greg wants to step up in competition.
"He thinks he can go to Moscow and knock him out, and he wanted to help the promotion, which is exactly what he did."
With Dos Santos out and Volkov vs. Hardy taking the co-main event slot, a featherweight bout between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar has been elevated to headlining status. Because of the short window until the Nov. 9 event, that bout will remain a three-round fight, despite its main event status.