The UFC has shuffled the deck in regards to its upcoming return to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Originally, a light heavyweight match-up featuring the #5-ranked Anthony Smith against #7-ranked Johnny Walker was set to top the card. However, on Tuesday, promotion officials announced that a previously reported heavyweight match-up between #9-ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik and #12-ranked Jailton Almeida would instead serve as the main event.
Smith vs. Walker will now serve as a three-round co-headliner, while Rozenstruik vs. Almeida gets an extra two rounds. UFC officials did not cite any reason for the change, which flies in the face of the rankings, with the Smith-Walker fight technically more relevant to its division.
The event is expected to air on broadcast network ABC in the U.S.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida was first reported by MMA Fighting and subsequently confirmed by multiple outlets, including Cageside Press, back in February.
Speaking to MMA Fighting on Tuesday, Smith said he had received news of the switch a day earlier. “The UFC contacted my manager yesterday and said we were getting bumped to co-main event and the fight would now be three rounds,” Smith told the website. “I wasn’t told who the new main event would be. It is what it is. First fight of the night, last fight of the night or somewhere in between — it makes no difference to me.”
The UFC has not been back to Charlotte, North Carolina since 2018, for UFC on FOX 27. As of now, the following fights have been reported for the promotion’s return on May 13, 2023:
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida
- Anthony Smith vs. Johnny Walker
- Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Tainara Lisboa
- Matt Brown vs. Court McGee
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill
- Bryan Battle vs. Gabe Green
- Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Cody Stamann
- Kim Ji-yeon vs. Mandy Böhm
- Daniel Rodriguez vs. Ian Garry
- Alex Morono vs. Tim Means
- Carlos Ulberg vs. Ihor Potieria