Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya's City Kickboxing teammate Shane Young was set to compete at UFC 260. The up-and-coming featherweight was scheduled to face Omar Morales, but is possibly now removed from Saturday's card owing to COVID-19 protocols.
After Alexander Volkanovski tested positive for coronavirus and had to withdraw from his UFC 260 bout against Brian Ortega, other fighters who have come in contact with the featherweight champion were pulled from their respective fights as well. Brad Riddell was a victim of the situation as he had to sit out his fight with Gregor Gillespie at UFC Vegas 22 last week. As per reports, the UFC is now looking for possible replacements to step in on short notice.
Fans looking forward to seeing Shane Young fight again since last September might be disappointed, even though the UFC is yet to make an official statement at the time of writing this.
Here are three things about the 27-year-old that you need to know.
#1 Shane Young has Maori roots and honors them at every opportunity
Born and brought up in Napier, New Zealand, Shane Young is of part-European and part-Maori descent. The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian settlers of mainland New Zealand and Shane Young is extremely proud of his roots. He has been vocal multiple times about how important his Maori heritage is to him and how he wanted to represent his culture in the sporting world. In his words:
"I feel like Māori is magical and people need to see that magic. I want to do it for my community and where I'm from. I want to be an inspiration to them. It also helps me and gives me mana. My ancestors were warriors, fighting to the death in battle. I'll talk about it and I'll say Māori words, and it gives me goosebumps. You can't fake that stuff, it gives you power."
At his UFC Singapore fight against Rolando Dy, Shane Young competed under the Tino Rangatiratanga flag of the Maori people and spoke in Maori language in his post-win interview - both firsts in the UFC.
#2 Shane Young struggled with depression and is now a mental health advocate
Dealing with a broken-up marriage and battling depression following his fight against Rolando Dy, Shane Young almost quit fighting back in 2018. The support of his family, the love for the sport, and finding his roots in the Maori culture helped him come out of it stronger.
After his third UFC fight, where he went up against Austin Arnett and secured a decision win, Shane Young decided to emphasize mental health instead of calling an opponent out.
"I know what you're going through. Just reach out to someone, talk. It's all good, we don't have to be (physically) strong. You can be strong by reaching out."
Shane Young also highlighted the high suicide rate of New Zealand and made it a point to talk about it in his post-event media conference as well.
"I know it sounds bad to say after a fight that we have the highest youth suicide rates, but I'm going to keep saying it until it's the opposite."
#3 Shane Young served as a commentator on King in the Ring
Some ongoing and recurring injuries kept Shane Young on the sidelines when UFC returned to Down Under in October 2019. His fellow Kiwis and City Kickboxing teammates Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker featured in the main event and co-main event respectively at the pay-per-view, and both came out with wins.
However, Shane Young utilized his time off fighting to hone his cageside skills. He debuted in commentary at New Zealand's biggest combat sports event, an eight-man tournament, King in the Ring, alongside leading Kiwi combat sports analyst and UFC striking coach Mike Angove.