Less than two weeks after the UFC announced their Perth debut for early next year, the first matchups for the historic pay-per-view event have come to light with Australian based fighters Ben Nguyen and Tyson Pedro both booking fights.
UFC 221, which takes place February 11 at Perth Arena, was made possible following the McGowan Government’s lifting of the ban on ‘cage’ fighting in Western Australia back in June.
While the show has yet to receive a main event, a middleweight title unification fight between Australia’s interim champion Robert Whittaker and recently crowned champion Georges St Pierre could still be a possibility with GSP contractually obliged to face the Aussie next if he chooses to keep fighting.
Currently the eighth ranked flyweight in the promotion, Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) will be gunning for three wins in a row following victories over Geane Herrera and most recently Tim Elliott, who the 29 year-old submitted in just 49 seconds in Auckland. Nguyen will come up against number five ranked Jussier Formiga (20-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) who is also coming off a first round submission victory. In his last outing in September the Brazilian submitted Japan’s Yuta Sasaki.
Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC), on the other hand, will be eager to steer back on track after suffering his first career loss to Ilir Latifi at UFC 215 in September. The Sydney based light heavyweight, 26, is set to meet Russian Saparbek Safarov (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who will also be looking to bounce back after dropping his promotional debut when he fought Gian Villante in a Fight of the Night performance almost 12 months ago.
The promotion announced today’s matchups via Thewest.com.au.