• Bibiano Fernandes' bantamweight title defense at ONE: Bad Blood is off the card after John Lineker tested positive for COVID-19
  • Their situation draws parallels with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson's history of canceled fights
  • Kirill Grishenko and Anatoly Malykhin will now headline ONE: Bad Blood for the interim heavyweight title

The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is as unpredictable as they come, and while some dream matches do come true, there are those that are seemingly cursed to never happen despite being rescheduled multiple times.

This might be the case for ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes and challenger John Lineker after it was revealed that the latter tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival in Singapore.

Fans were looking forward to their titanic clash over the bantamweight title as their bad blood has become a major talking point in the build-up to the fight.

Before the cancellation, Fernandes predicted that their fight will not fall in the hands of the judges, while Lineker called for a knockout victory himself.

This would be the second time that the matchup between Fernandes and Lineker would be suspended as their first meeting was initially booked in December of last year at ONE X.

That event would be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the island city-state.

For MMA fans, last-minute cancellations have almost become a part of the sport’s identity, and the abrupt change of plans to ONE: Bad Blood’s main event is eerily similar to the fate of the heated rivalry between Khabib Nurmagomedov Tony Ferguson in the UFC.

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were set to fight in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 22 back in December 2015, but the former pulled out due to a knee injury.

Ferguson ended up pulling out of the rescheduled bout for April 2016 due to a lung issue.

A few matches with other fighters later and the pair were then matched up for UFC 209 in March 2017 for the interim lightweight title, to which the “The Eagle” had to pull out due to illness owing to a brutal weight cut.

With the UFC still hoping to grant both the fans and fighters’ wishes of seeing the two mix it up, UFC 223 in April 2018 was the fourth time Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were announced and it was now “El Cucuy” who suffered a knee injury.

It seemed as if the fight was finally set to happen in April 2020 for UFC 249, but the onset of COVID-19 forced Nurmagomedov to stay in Russia–making it the sport’s most-awaited fight to never happen.

Combat sports analyst and International Business Times sports editor Nissi Icasiano correctly predicted that the main event fight for ONE: Bad Blood will now be between Kirill Grishenko and Anatoly Malykhin for the interim heavyweight title after ONE Championship confirmed the changes.

Fernandes and Lineker being suspended for the second time have fans hoping that the two will get to clash sometime in the future because MMA has seen way too many dream matches fail to materialize.

In the meantime, fans can expect a main event-worthy clash from both Grishenko and Malykhin as the winner will get to face the current heavyweight king Arjan Bhullar for the undisputed title.

ONE: Bad Blood will be streaming live on the ONE Super App and the official ONE Championship YouTube channel at 8:30 PM SGT (7:30 AM ET in the United States) on Friday, February 11.