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The planned UFC 274 lightweight battle between Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon has been scrapped hours before the fighters were set to make their cage walk. UFC commentator Jon Anik confirmed the news during the preliminary broadcast for the event, stating that Cerrone had a non-COVID illness.

A welterweight contest between Khaos Williams and Randy Brown will instead kick off the PPV festivities.

The news takes a highly-anticipated fight off the main card for the event. Cerrone, who is tied for the most wins in UFC history, was looking for his first win since May 4, 2019. He has officially lost five consecutive fights, with another loss overturned to a no contest after Niko Price tested positive for marijuana.

Lauzon was set to return after having been out of action since an October 2019 win over Jonathan Pearce that snapped a three-fight losing skid.

The fight was originally planned for UFC Fight Night on June 25 but was moved to the UFC 274 card. Cerrone had said the fight demanded a bigger stage than the UFC Apex but his illness could potentially push it back to the original date.

During fight week, UFC president Dana White suggested that the loser of Cerrone vs. Lauzon should "pack it up and ride off into the sunset" after years of tough results for both men.