Las Vegas, July 21: The final event of the UFC run of shows on UFC Fight Island is set to be headlined by a pivotal middleweight bout as former champion and No. 1 ranked contender Robert Whittaker takes on No. 5 Darren Till.
The first New Zealand-born UFC champion, Whittaker (21-5, fighting out of Sydney, Australia) aims to return to his winning ways and secure the next shot at his lost title.
Whittaker first captured his championship after moving up in weight and going on an incredible winning streak that included stoppage wins over Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares.
This streak was capped off with back-to-back wins over Yoel Romero to earn and retain the belt, in two of the best fights in the division's history. He now intends to make a statement and cement his claim as the clear No. 1 contender.
Former UFC welterweight title challenger, Till (18-2, fighting out of Liverpool, England) made an immediate impact in the middleweight division with a victory over perennial top contender Kelvin Gastelum.
Prior to moving up in weight, Till had established himself as one of the best welterweights in the world with marquee wins over Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson. Now, Till seeks to earn another shot at UFC gold by taking out his first former champion.
Also on the card, MMA legends Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira look to settle their historic trilogy. All events on UFC Fight Island are the result of a partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rua (26-11, fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil) looks to make it three in a row against fellow Brazilian legend Nogueira.
One of the most exciting and dangerous athletes to compete in UFC and PRIDE, Rua has secured wins over a who's who of MMA icons, including Alistair Overeem, Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin and Lyoto Machida. He now intends to prove that he still has what it takes to compete with the best in the world.
Nogueira (23-9, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) plans to make the most of his third fight with Rua with a career-defining win.
A former PRIDE standout, Nogueira made waves when he joined the UFC in 2009 by earning wins over former champions Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans. Now, he looks to get back in the win column with another signature finish in what could be his last bout.
Additional bouts on the card include:
• Former UFC champion and No. 14 ranked Fabricio Werdum (23-8, fighting out of Los Angeles, Calif.) takes on former three-time light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (18-6, fighting out of Stockholm, Sweden) in the heavyweight division
• In a matchup of top women's strawweight contenders, former champion and No. 7 ranked Carla Esparza (17-6, fighting out of Irvine, Calif.) attempts to hand undefeated No. 9 Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2, fighting out of Santa Catarina, Brazil) her first loss
• Paul Craig (12-4, fighting out of Coatbridge, Scotland) battles fellow light heavyweight grappler Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6, fighting out of Makhachkala, Russia)
• An exciting welterweight matchup sees Alex Oliveira (20-8, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) take on Peter Sobotta (17-5, fighting out of Balingen, Germany)
• Looking to set a record for fastest back-to-back UFC wins, Khamzat Chimaev (7-0, Stockholm, Sweden) returns to welcome Rhys McKee (10-2-1, fighting out of Northern Ireland)
• Veteran lightweight Francisco Trinaldo (25-7, fighting out of Federal District, Brazil) looks to spoil the UFC debut of Jai Herbert (10-1, fighting out of England, United Kingdom)
• Nicolas Dalby (15-2, fighting out of Copenhagen, Denmark) intends to put on another exciting performance when he meets Jesse Ronson (21-10, fighting out of London, Ontario, Canada) on short notice at welterweight
• In a heavyweight bout, Tom Aspinall (7-2, fighting out of England, United Kingdom) aims to make a good first impression on UFC fans when he takes on Jake Collier (11-4, fighting out of Cuba, Mo.)
• Undefeated featherweight prospect Movsar Evloev (12-0, fighting out of Ingushetia, Russia) looks to hand Mike Grundy (12-1, fighting out of England, United Kingdom) his first UFC loss
• Streaking Canadian heavyweight Tanner Boser (18-6-1, fighting out of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada) steps up on short notice to take on Raphael Pessoa (10-1, fighting out of Atuba, Parana, Brazil)
• No. 13 ranked women's bantamweight Bethe Correia (11-4, fighting out of Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil) aims to defend her spot in the rankings against Pannie Kianzad (13-5, fighting out of Helsingborg, Skane County, Sweden)
• Ramazan Emeev (18-4, fighting out of Makhachkala, Russia) looks to bounce back into the win column against short-notice replacement Niklas Stolze (12-3, fighting out of Magdeburg, Germany) in a welterweight bout
• Top English bantamweight prospect Nathaniel Wood (16-4, fighting out of England, United Kingdom) aims to get back to his winning ways with a statement win over John Castaneda (14-2, fighting out of Minneapolis, Minn.)
UFC Fight Night on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till will take place Saturday, July 25 at Flash Forum on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island. The full event will be simulcast airing live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ (English and Spanish) with the prelims starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT and the main card at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
The event will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance.
Source: Press Release