At UFC 294, Viktoria Dudakova, an up-and-coming talent in the women’s flyweight division, secured a hard-fought decision victory over Jin Yu Frey. However, her win came at a significant personal cost.
Dudakova, an undefeated 24-year-old Russian fighter with an impeccable record of 8-0, aimed to make her mark on the Prelims card of UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi. Little did she anticipate that her victory would lead to unexpected headlines.
What sets this story apart is that Dudakova, a former standout on the “Contender Series,” faced a challenging ordeal in the form of a staph infection during her preparation for the UFC’s pay-per-view event. This situation may sound familiar to fans who recall Brazilian fighter Paulo Costa’s similar predicament. However, the key difference here is that Dudakova chose to keep her condition concealed until after the fight.
During a post-fight press conference, Dudakova shared her concealed struggle with the staph infection that had plagued her for the past month:
“I have to tell you, this time around I wasn’t able to wrestle, I’ll explain why,” Dudakova shared through a translator. “For the past month, I had a staph infection. Actually, my backside, my buttocks are completely affected right now. I have a staph infection in places that are not necessarily appropriate to announce to the whole world. I was just fighting with the doctors over there, my manager was fighting with the doctors because they checked me after the fight, and they said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us before, because we would’ve had to take you off the fight?’ And I did not want to be taken off the fight. I think after the fight or sometime during the fight, there was an abscess that appeared, and I think now it popped because everything is completely affected.”
Dudakova’s choice to keep her infection hidden may have consequences from the UFC, as former heavyweight Ilir Latifi faced suspension for a similar failure to disclose an issue before his fight at UFC Vegas 61. Furthermore, competing with a staph infection not only jeopardized Dudakova’s health but also posed a risk to her opponent, Jinh Yu Frey.
This revelation highlights the extent to which fighters are willing to go to compete and the challenges they face behind the scenes. It underscores the importance of fighters prioritizing their health and safety, both for themselves and their opponents, and the need for greater transparency in such situations within the sport of mixed martial arts.