The return of “The Highlight” appears to be set for UFC 286 in London, England this March.
Justin Gaethje (23-4), a former UFC interim lightweight champion and WSOF champ, will face Rafael Fiziev (12-1) at the event on March 18, 2023.
Gaethje himself confirmed the booking Saturday, following an initial report by ESPN. While the bout has yet to be formally finalized, it appears that it’s all but a done deal.
UFC 286 is expected to feature Leon Edwards defending his welterweight title. While nothing has been officially announced, Edwards has stated that Kamaru Usman is go for the rubber match of their trilogy at the card set for the O2 Arena.
Usman and Gaethje are teammates at Elevation in Colorado under head coach Trevor Wittman, which puts the London date in focus.
Last competing in a failed bid to claim gold against Charles Oliveira, Gaethje will be fighting for the first time in roughly 11 months at the event. Through 10 UFC fights to date, one of the most violent competitors to ever compete in mixed martial arts boasts a 6-4 record, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Two of those losses came against current champions, and two against former/future champs (Eddie Alvarez, and Dustin Poirier, who would later win interim gold).
Gaethje holds 10 post-fight bonuses, and two Fight of the Year honors since joining the promotion in 2017.
Fiziev has not lost a fight since his promotional debut in 2019 — and that remains his sole career loss. He’s won six straight, finishing three of those bouts, most recently stopping former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos.
To date, the following match-ups have been reported for UFC 286 on March 18, 2023 at the O2 Arena in London, England:
- Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev
- Marvin Vettori vs. Roman Dolidze
- Nathaniel Wood vs. Lerone Murphy
- Joanne Wood vs. Luana Carolina
- Malcolm Gordon vs. Jake Hadley
- Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O’Neill
- Jai Herbert vs. Ľudovít Klein
- Daniel Rodriguez vs. Gunnar Nelson
- Chris Duncan vs. Michal Figlak
- Veronica Macedo vs. Juliana Miller