Muslim Salikhov vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio fight canceled for Jan. 16 event

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A welterweight bout between Muslim Salikhov and Santiago Ponzinibbio is off for now.

MMA Fighting has confirmed with sources with knowledge of the change that Salikhov will not be competing against Ponzinibbio on the UFC’s upcoming Jan. 16 event due to health issues.

Salikhov first announced his withdrawal via Instagram on Tuesday.

Salikhov did not give a timetable for his return, though he indicates that he plans to focus on recovery.

“King of Kung Fu” also withdrew from his previous booking, an Oct. 17 encounter with Claudio Silva. In his post, Salikhov mentions that his health issues are related to COVID-19 symptoms dating back to September.

In 2020, Salikhov (17-2) competed once, defeating Elizeu Zaleski by split decision in July. He is currently on a four-fight win streak, which also includes a pair of knockout victories over Nordine Taleb and Ricky Rainey.

It is not yet known if the promotion will seek a replacement opponent for Ponzinibbio (27-3), who has not made the walk to the octagon since November 2018. Ponzinibbio has won seven straight fights.