Dominick Cruz-Jimmie Rivera, Cynthia Calvillo-Carla Esparza on tap for UFC 219 in Las Vegas

Two former champions are set to return to the octagon at UFC 219, which marks the organization’s final event of the year.

Former UFC bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) will see action for the first time since losing the title to Cody Garbrandt, when he takes on the 20-fight winning streak of Jimmie Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC). Also, former strawweight champ Carla Esparza (12-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is set to clash with rising star Cynthia Calvillo (6-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC).

The UFC made the fights official today.

UFC 219 takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Cruz, No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, dropped the 135-pound belt to Garbrandt at UFC 207 last December. Cruz opted to take time off since and was originally angling for a fight against the winner of November’s title fight between Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw.Cruz will have to get a win under his belt first, though.

Beating No. 5 Rivera has proven to be no easy task, however. After losing his second MMA fight in November 2008, Rivera has rattled off 20 consecutive wins, including five in the UFC. He’s coming off a unanimous decision over Thomas Almeida at UFC on FOX 25 in July.

No. 5-ranked Esparza, meanwhile, has been up and down down since losing her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185 in March 2015. She won her most recent bout, though, using a takedown-heavy game plan to top Maryna Moroz by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 112 in June.

Esparza will attempt to avoid becoming a signature win for No. 12-ranked Calvillo, who has been on a tear since making her UFC debut on short notice at UFC 209 in March. Calvillo has gone 3-0 inside the octagon in short order and will attempt to become the first and only UFC fighter with four victories in 2017.

Also set for UFC 219, per the Las Vegas Review Journal, is a flyweight contest between Louis Smolka (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) and Matheus Nicolau (12-1-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).

The UFC 219 currently includes:

  • Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Aljamain Sterling lures Jimmie Rivera into Twitter beef – gets vengeful response

In the busy world of MMA Twitter beefs, it’s not easy to stand out. But Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera have our attention.

While the roots of this particular bantamweight stand-off go way back, this most recent back-and-forth seems to have been initiated by Sterling on Tuesday. With UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby and a fair amount of emojis involved, Sterling started by making his case as to why the two should meet up in the octagon.

The “Funk Master” was not only the early aggressor, but also had the biggest output  – with added points for his sharp gif game.

It was low-key savage Rivera, however, who arguably landed the most damaging shot (via Twitter).

It took a few tries for Sterling to finally lure Rivera in. But he kept the wait fun by taking on some of his favorite Twitter trolls.

Currently the No. 11 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, Sterling (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is certainly living a good octagon moment. After a bitter two-fight skid (both split decisions) halted an undefeated 12-fight pro run, Sterling bounced back with consecutive wins over Augusto Mendes and former 135-pound champion Renan Barao.

But Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who currently sits at No. 5, has been aiming a little higher in the bantamweight food chain. After a dominant decision over Thomas Almeida added a sixth win to his unbeaten UFC run – and 20th overall – Rivera went straight for ex-champs Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw.

Whether the matchup will materialize in the octagon remains to be seen. But, in the name of neutrality, The Blue Corner scores this Twitter exchange a fairly entertaining draw.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Chris Weidman and UFC on FOX 25's other winning fighters?

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5518198987001
Filed under: News, UFC

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What next for UFC on FOX 25’s losing fighters?)

Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 main event had an important impact on the middleweight division. Former champ Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) put himself back in the mix as a relevant player in the weight class with a third-round submission of Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC)

“All-American” wasn’t the only one to get a meaningful victory at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. In the FOX-televised co-main event, Darren Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) strengthened his featherweight contender status, Patrick Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) won another grueling fight, and Jimmie Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) shut down a hyped up-and-comer in the network-televised opener.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on FOX 25’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Jimmie Rivera

Dominick Cruz

Should fight: Dominick Cruz
Why they should fight: Rivera pushed his winning streak to a remarkable 20 consecutive fights when he defeated bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision.

Rivera’s nearly nine-year run without a loss continued when he handed a rare defeat to the Brazilian, providing the 135-pound division with further notice that he’s coming for the title. Rivera has had some bad luck with injuries and fight cancellations, but he hopes the latest win secures no less than a No. 1 contender fight.

Immediately following his win, Rivera targeted former UFC champ Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who was calling the action from cageside. “The Dominator” hasn’t fought since losing the 135-pound belt to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207, and with Garbrandt pegged to defend against T.J. Dillashaw next, setting up a fight between Rivera and Cruz would be perfect for the advancement of the division.

Patrick Cummins

Jared Cannonier

Should fight: Jared Cannonier
Why they should fight: Cummins’ up-and-down UFC career once again took an upward turn when he scored a split-decision win over Gian Villante in a hard-fought light heavyweight matchup.

Until Cummins can put together a big run, he’s going to remain relegated to mid-tier 205-pound matchups. That’s a perfectly fine role for now, especially because he’s likely to get more chances to break into the elite going forward.

Cummins’ wrestling is going to be a big threat against any opponent he fights. He’s struggled against hard hitters, though, and Cannonier (10-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) matches the power of anyone in the weight class. Cannonier has had difficulty with grapplers during his career, so the danger of the matchup would go both ways.

Darren Elkins

Ricardo Lamas

Should fight: Winner of Ricardo Lamas vs. Jason Knight at UFC 214
Why they should fight: Elkins once again pulled off a huge victory when he went into hostile territory and defeated Dennis Bermudez in a crucial featherweight bout.

Elkins pushed his winning streak to five when he earned a split-decision win over Bermudez in the co-main event affair, setting himself up for more big things in the future.

With the top of the division locked up with a number of potential title-fight scenarios, Elkins is going to need to put in even more work to get in the conversation as a realistic challenger to champ Max Holloway. He’s already on the best run of his UFC tenure, and a victory over the winner of the UFC 214 bout between Lamas (17-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Knight (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) would elevate his position even more.

Chris Weidman

Should fight: Ronaldo Souza
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Weidman should fight Ronaldo Souza (24-5 MMA, 7-2 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC on FOX 25's Marlon Vera game to fight anyone, but has unfinished business with Jimmie Rivera

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5517732343001
Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera has made it abundantly clear that he’ll fight anybody, anywhere, at any time.

The fact that he’s now riding a three-fight streak following a first-round submission of Brian Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 hasn’t changed that. But Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) does see the logic in solving some unfinished business with a contender who’d later come out victorious of his own UFC on FOX 25 scrap.

In January, Jimmie Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) had agreed to Vera as a substitute when Bryan Caraway pulled out of a UFC Fight Night 103 appointment. Rivera, however, later changed his mind, saying that he didn’t want to “look like a bully” and get in the way of the Ecuadorian fighter making money to help his daughter get surgery.

It seems like Vera – who actually called for the winner of  Rivera vs. Thomas Almeida before that fight took place – didn’t really buy it.

“It was really tough for me, because I cut 15 pounds in two days for that fight,” Vera said after his preliminary card bantamweight scrap, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. “I went to the gym, and to the sauna, because I was super motivated to fight a top guy. And I was expecting respect from him, and he just said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt him.’

“And then what pissed me off is the said, ‘I don’t want to fight him, because if I beat him, he’s not going to be able to help his daughter.’ And in my mind, I was like, ‘You don’t have a brain. Because if you beat me, I cash a check. So I’m still making something.’ That’s what pissed me off. I’ve got nothing against him, but when he says things like that, he makes no sense at all.”

As evidenced by the double call-out of ex-135-pound-champs T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz right after his perfect display over Almeida, Rivera already has his sights somewhere else. But, in any case, it’s not like Vera is going to be too heartbroken if that matchup doesn’t happen.

Another option, “Chito” says, is undefeated bantamweight Brett Johns (14-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) – who recently scored a dominant UFC Fight Night 113 decision over Albert Morales. After the win, the Welshman said he was coming off what was virtually a 20-week camp and wasn’t planning on fighting again until December.

“Whatever the UFC wants to give me,” Vera said. “If I get that Rivera fight, cool. If I get that kid from Europe, cool. If I get somebody else, I don’t care. We’ll fight anybody; you guys know that.”

But don’t take Vera’s willingness to accept any challenge as a sign of lack of ambition. Confident that his game is getting better with each fight, the Team Oyama fighter says he’ll be back to the gym on Monday looking to keep making his path toward the top.

“I want to give my country a champion one day, so I’m working on that,” Vera said.

To hear from Vera, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC on FOX 25 video highlights: Jimmie Rivera vs. Thomas Almeida

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Jimmie Rivera dropped Thomas Almeida twice in the first, was dropped himself in the second, but still made an impression on the judges in the end.

On the strength of his power punching and tactical savvy, Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) out-pointed Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on all three judges’ scorecards to take a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28, 30-26, and 30-27 for his 20th win in a row.

The bantamweight bout opened up the main card of today’s UFC on FOX 25 event at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. It aired on FOX following prelims on FOX and UFC Fight Pass.

Check out the highlights above.

Also see:

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC on FOX 25 results: Jimmie Rivera's winning streak at 20 after decision vs. Thomas Almeida

Jimmie Rivera dropped Thomas Almeida twice in the first, was dropped himself in the second, but still made an impression on the judges in the end.

On the strength of his power punching and tactical savvy, Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) out-pointed Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on all three judges’ scorecards to take a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28, 30-26, and 30-27 for his 20th win in a row.

The bantamweight bout opened up the main card of today’s UFC on FOX 25 event at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. It aired on FOX following prelims on FOX and UFC Fight Pass.

Rivera got off to a strong start in the opening round, hurting Almeida with heavy right hands and sharp counter hooks, dropping him twice in the opening frame as Almeida was forced to hold on and clinch in order to clear his head.

But as is his habit, Almeida came back fiercely after those early troubles, dropping Rivera with a stiff right hand in the second and rattling him with a head kick, only to have Rivera battle back late in the round.

In the third, with the fight looking like it might be close on the scorecards, Rivera relied on his takedowns, even when it meant taking a chance late in the fight to get Almeida down. That strategic risk-taking paid off when the fight went to the judges, as all three gave the fight to Rivera, who remains unbeaten in his UFC tenure.

The win brings Rivera’s winning streak in the UFC to four straight fights. Almeida has lost two of his last three fights for the first two losses of his pro career.

Up-to-the-minute UFC on FOX 25 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson contributed to this report on site in New York.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter reacts to Jimmie Rivera's win over Thomas Almeida at UFC on FOX 25

Jimmie Rivera pushed his winning streak to a remarkable 20 consecutive fights on Saturday when he defeated Thomas Almeida in the UFC on FOX 25 main-card opener.

Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) remained undefeated inside the octagon when he earned a unanimous-decision victory over Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the FOX-televised bantamweight bout at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y., further strengthening his position as one of the division’s top contenders.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Rivera’s victory.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC on FOX 25 staff picks: Who's picking Chris Weidman to snap his skid at home?

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5515891242001
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Weidman
vs.
Gastelum
Bermudez
vs.
Elkins
Cummins
vs.
Villante
Almeida
vs.
Rivera
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 68-53
gastelum2017
Gastelum
(52%)
bermudez2017
Bermudez
(67%)
cummins2017
Cummins
(53%)
jrivera2017
Rivera
(52%)
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 76-45
trophy copy 2015 Champion
weidman2017
Weidman
bermudez2017
Bermudez
cummins2017
Cummins
talmeida2017
Almeida
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 76-45
weidman2017
Weidman
elkins2017
Elkins
villante2017
Villante
talmeida2017
Almeida
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 76-45
gastelum2017
Gastelum
bermudez2017
Bermudez
cummins2017
Cummins
talmeida2017
Almeida
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 74-47
gastelum2017
Gastelum
bermudez2017
Bermudez
cummins2017
Cummins
jrivera2017
Rivera
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 72-49
gastelum2017
Gastelum
bermudez2017
Bermudez
cummins2017
Cummins
jrivera2017
Rivera
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 71-50
trophy copy 2016 Champion
gastelum2017
Gastelum
bermudez2017
Bermudez
villante2017
Villante
jrivera2017
Rivera
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 70-51
weidman2017
Weidman
bermudez2017
Bermudez
cummins2017
Cummins
talmeida2017
Almeida
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 69-52
trophy copy 2014 Champion
gastelum2017
Gastelum
bermudez2017
Bermudez
villante2017
Villante
jrivera2017
Rivera
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 68-53
gastelum2017
Gastelum
elkins2017
Elkins
villante2017
Villante
jrivera2017
Rivera
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 66-55
weidman2017
Weidman
elkins2017
Elkins
cummins2017
Cummins
jrivera2017
Rivera

The UFC is back in the state of New York this week for the fifth time since MMA legislation passed in 2016.

UFC on FOX 25 takes place Saturday at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The card airs on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) gets to fight in front of his home Long Island fans when he takes on ex-welterweight Kelvin Gastelum (13-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC). Gastelum is a slight favorite in the fight; Weidman has lost three straight – the only three losses of his career. It’s Gastelum who has a 6-4 edge in the picks from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, Dennis Bermudez (16-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) is more than a 2-1 favorite in his featherweight fight against Darren Elkins (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC), who is coming off an all-time comeback win earlier this year. Bermudez is the heaviest favorite as far as our staff is concerned with a 7-3 nod over Elkins.

Also on the main card, Patrick Cummins (9-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) takes on New York’s own Gian Villante (15-8 MMA, 5-5 UFC) in a light heavyweight bout. Cummins is a slight favorite, and he’s a slight favorite among our staff members at 6-4. And to open the main card, bantamweights Thomas Almeida (21-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) and Jimmie Rivera (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) meet. Rivera, who is unbeaten in the UFC, is a 6-4 pick from our crew.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Gastelum, Bermudez, Cummins and Rivera are the choices – though only Bermudez has more than a 53 percent advantage among the public.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC on FOX 25 in New York

We want your predictions for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 event in New York.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the UFC on FOX 25 staff picks we release on Friday ahead of the event. UFC on FOX 25 takes place at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. The card airs on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Records: Chris Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC),. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC)
Past five: Weidman 2-3, Gastelum 3-1 (one no-contest)
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: Weidman No. 8, Gastelum No. 13
Odds (as of 7/16/17): Gastelum -155, Weidman +125

Take Our Poll
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Dennis Bermudez vs. Darren Elkins

Records: Dennis Bermudez (16-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC), Darren Elkins (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC)
Past five: Bermudez 2-3, Elkins 4-1
Division: Featherweight
Rankings: Elkins No. 13
Odds (as of 7/16/17): Bermudez -235, Elkins +200

Take Our Poll
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Patrick Cummins vs. Gian Villante

Records: Patrick Cummins (9-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC), Gian Villante (15-8 MMA, 5-5 UFC)
Past five: Cummins 2-3, Villante 2-3
Division: Light heavyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 7/16/17): Cummins -120, Villante +100

Take Our Poll
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Thomas Almeida vs. Jimmie Rivera

Records: Thomas Almeida (21-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Jimmie Rivera (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC)
Past five: Almeida 4-1, Rivera 5-0
Division: Bantamweight
Rankings: Rivera No. 7, Almeida No. 12
Odds (as of 7/16/17): n/a

Take Our Poll
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For more on UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC on FOX 25 lineup finalized with 'New York vs. the world' theme on 4-fight main card

With the UFC making its Long Island debut later this month, the promotion is leaning heavy on New York-based fighters on the evening’s main card.

UFC officials recently released the full broadcast plans for UFC on FOX 25, which takes place on July 22 at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. The evening’s four-fight main card airs on FOX following four preliminary bouts on the same network, as well as five early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

In the night’s main event, New York native and former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner Kelvin Gastelum (13-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC). It’s a must-win for Weidman, who after rattling off 13 straight victories to open his professional career has now dropped three consecutive fights via knockout.

In the co-feature, New York’s Dennis Bermudez (16-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) faces a gritty Darren Elkins (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) in a key featherweight contest. Elkins sits at No. 13 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, while Bermudez is an honorable mention.

The main card is rounded out with a light heavyweight matchup that sees New York’s Gian Villante (15-8 MMA, 5-5 UFC) face Patrick Cummins (9-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC), as well as New Jersey’s (OK, so we took a little liberty with the “New York vs. the world” thing) Jimmie Rivera (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC)in a fantastic bantamweight matchup with Thomas Almeida (21-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC).

The full UFC on FOX 25 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Dennis Bermudez vs. Darren Elkins
  • Patrick Cummins vs. Gian Villante
  • Thomas Almeida vs. Jimmie Rivera

PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX, 6 p.m. ET)

  • Lyman Good vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Rafael Natal
  • Ryan LaFlare vs. Alex Oliveira
  • Christian Colombo vs. Damian Grabowski

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 4 p.m. ET)

  • Kyle Bochniak vs. Jeremy Kennedy
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Marlon Vera
  • Junior Albini vs. Timothy Johnson
  • Shane Burgos vs. Godofredo Pepey
  • Frankie Perez vs. Chris Wade

For more on UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie