After breaking the news on UFC 296’s championship doubleheader, UFC CEO Dana White returned with more news regarding the final pay-per-view of 2023.
Budding lightweight star Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett returns to the Octagon after a year away where he will face former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. Pimblett last competed at UFC 282 in Las Vegas where he went three rounds with Jared Gordon and earned a unanimous decision nod from the judges. Although the performance left some underwhelmed, Pimblett maintained his perfect UFC record through four bouts. After recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the fight which required surgery, Pimblett looks to reignite his hype train.
Meanwhile, his opponent is in dire need of a win. Once the owner of a historic winning streak, “El Cucuy” has lost six on the bounce and has been finished in his last three fights. Ferguson was last seen at UFC 291 where Bobby Green submitted him late in the final round. Despite the recent struggles, 39-year-old has shown flashes of his old form and still has the skills to give the 28-year-old scouser plenty to handle.
Also joining the festivities in Las Vegas is a welterweight matchup between former title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Shavkat Rakhmonov.
Rakhmonov is one of the brightest prospect to join the roster in the last few years. Sporting a perfect 17-0 record with 17 finishes, Rakhmonov submitted veteran staple Neil Magny and fellow top-15 riser Geoff Neal in his last two fights. On the other hand, Thompson is coming off a much-needed, bounce-back win over Kevin Holland in December 2022. The 40-year-old Thompson was supposed to fight earlier this year but opted not to compete after his opponent, Michel Pereira, missed weight. Thompson is of the conviction that he is still a title contender, and a win over Rakhmonov would bolster that belief.
The timing of the fight is helpful as well with welterweight champion Leon Edwards defending his belt against Colby Covington in the main event. Alexandre Pantoja puts his belt on the line for the first time in a rematch against Brandon Royval in the co-main event.
Stay tuned to UFC.com for any and all updates regarding fights, events and more.