UFC Vegas 77 suffered a setback as the heavyweight bout between Walt Harris and Josh Parisian was removed from the card due to issues with USADA. Harris, who recently made his UFC return after a two-year break, tested positive in a pre-fight drug test. While the specific substance was not disclosed, Harris took responsibility and admitted his mistake.
The 40-year-old veteran’s comeback was marred by three consecutive losses, all ending in technical knockouts. The cancellation of the fight leaves Parisian without an opponent just days before the event, making it unlikely for the promotion to find a replacement in such short notice.
USADA Issue Derails Walt Harris vs. Josh Parisian Bout at UFC Vegas 77
“I wanted you to hear from me first that my fight has been cancelled due to an issue that just came up with my most recent USADA test,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “I believe this came from a supplement that I’ve trusted my entire career, but at the end of the day it was never USADA approved. I’m a complete idiot for not checking prior, but I’m definitely not a cheater.”
“I sincerely apologize to my opponent Josh Parisian,” Harris continued. “I was looking forward to doing battle with you in the Octagon. Once I get past this if you’re down I hope we can try again! I am going to face this head on while working with UFC and USADA and hope to have all of this sorted out in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience and support and I am looking forward to making this comeback very soon.”
— Walt Harris (@thebigticket205) July 12, 2023
Harris now faces the challenge of proving that the flagged substance was a result of a tainted supplement, a scenario that has occurred before in the sport. Failure to provide a valid explanation could lead to fines and a potential suspension.
Meanwhile, amidst the disappointment, there was some good news for welterweight contender Jack Della Maddalena. After experiencing multiple opponents changes leading up to UFC 290, he was removed from the card. However, the UFC swiftly arranged a bout for him at UFC Vegas 77. Della Maddalena will now face Octagon newcomer Bassil Hafez, who comes into the fight with a notable third-round knockout victory and the Fury FC welterweight championship under his belt.