Rodolfo Vieira was forced off UFC Sao Paulo on November 4th, 2023 at the very last minute, as his opponent Armen Petrosyan withdrew from the event during the live broadcast. This has to be one of the latest event withdrawals in the history of the promotion, as the public was only notified shortly before the main card had started. UFC Sao Paulo was already well underway at the time, and the preliminary card had actually finished when Brendan Fitzgerald made the announcement that the fight was cancelled. The reason given was that Petrosyan had suffered an illness backstage during the event and was unable to make it to the cage.
Vieira was scheduled to compete against Petrosyan pretty soon after the fight was called off, and this actually wasn’t the only match that fell through leading up to the event without the possibility of finding a replacement. The other two fights that were removed from the card actually happened as a result of failed weigh-ins the day before the event. Both Victor Hugo and Ismael Bonfim missed their respective weight limits at bantamweight and lightweight. Hugo was 2.5lbs overweight and Bonfim was 3.5lbs overweight, so both men were removed from the card along with their opponents.
This meant that UFC Sao Paulo went from having 13 fights and 6 on the main card, to just 10 fights and 5 on the main card at very short notice. Rodolfo Vieira in particular is no doubt devastated by his opponent pulling out during the event, and not just because it was such a late withdrawal. Vieira has alternated wins and losses in his last 4 fights after going 7-0 at the start of his professional MMA career, but was coming into UFC Sao Paulo off a superb submission win over Cody Brundage. He was no doubt eager to get a win-streak going again, and will likely be looking to get back in the cage as soon as possible in order to maintain that momentum.
Brian Butler-Au, Armen Petryosyan’s manager, confirmed the news that his client had caught a virus backstage during UFC Sao Paulo and was out of his fight with Rodolfo Vieira at the event in a post to his official Twitter account:
Unfortunately our client Armen Petrosyan caught a virus or something back stage and has to pull out of his fight tonight in UFC São Paulo. UFC said they will look to get him back in right away as soon as he is cleared.
— Brian Butler-Au (@BrianButler_Au) November 5, 2023