Oktagon Champ Felipe Lima Steps In Against Muhammad Naimov at UFC Saudi Arabia

Muhammad Naimov and Jamie Mullarkey, UFC Vegas 74
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 03: (L-R) Muhammad Naimov of Tajikistan punches Jamie Mullarkey of Australia in a lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The besieged UFC Saudi Arabia card has seen another fight take a hit, with Felipe Lima, the Oktagon MMA bantamweight champ, stepping up on just under a week’s notice to replace Melsik Baghdasaryan.

Baghdasaryan was the originally scheduled opponent for Muhammad Naimov, who will now face Lima this Saturday instead. The fight is expected to be contested at featherweight.

News of the switch was first reported by Eurosport’s Marcel Dorff. Oktagon officials confirmed to Cageside Press that Lima, their reigning bantamweight champ, has been released by the company, per the terms of his contract. An update on future plans for the promotion’s bantamweight title is expected shortly.

Lima (12-1) defeated Jonas Magard in July of 2023 to capture the Oktagon bantamweight crown. He had been expected to face Magard for a second time in a rematch next month, a fight that will no longer transpire with Lima inking a deal with the UFC.

Brazil’s Lima, 26, has not lost a fight since his pro debut in 2015, which remains as his first and only professional defeat.

Muhammad Naimov (11-2) has put together a three-fight win streak since joining the UFC, and has won six straight overall. He has not lost since back-to-back setbacks in 2020/21, outside of the UFC.

UFC Saudi Arabia on June 22, 2024 marks the promotion’s debut in the Kingdom. Just days ago, the card suffered a major blow when it was revealed that Khamzat Chimaev was forced out of his main event middleweight fight with ex-champ Robert Whittaker. Chimaev was subsequently replaced by Ikram Aliskerov.

With Lima stepping in against Naimov, the card currently features the following reported match-ups:

  • Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov
  • Sergei Pavlovich vs. Alexander Volkov
  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Daniel Rodriguez
  • Johnny Walker vs. Volkan Oezdemir
  • Sharabutdin Magomedov vs. Joilton Lutterbach
  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Jared Gordon
  • Rinat Fakhretdinov vs. Nicolas Dalby
  • Kang Kyung-ho vs. Muin Gafurov
  • Magomed Gadzhiyasulov vs. Brendson Ribeiro
  • Xiao Long vs. Lee Chang-ho
  • Sedriques Dumas vs. Denis Tiuliulin
  • Muhammad Naimov vs. Felipe Lima