UFC officials Saturday announced that middleweights Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort will close the show when the Octagon returns to Brazil on Jan. 19.
Eleven additional fights were also confirmed for the event, though no venue or location has been made official. Recovered from injury, “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” standout Daniel Sarafian will make his UFC debut against “TUF 7” finalist C.B. Dollaway on the evening’s main card, which also features a heavyweight pairing between Gabriel Gonzaga and Ben Rothwell and a lightweight showdown pitting Thiago Tavares against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Eight fights are currently slated for the evening’s preliminary draw, as Godofredo Castro faces countryman Milton Vieira, and Andrew Craig collides with Ronny Markes. Former lightweight Nik Lentz looks to continue his winning ways as a featherweight when he meets Diego Nunes, and Edson Barboza will attempt to erase the memory of his first career defeat when he squares off with Justin Salas at 155 pounds.
Dutch judo practitioner Michael Kuiper will also be in action, taking on “TUF: Brazil” veteran Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuo, while World Extreme Cagefighting alumnus George Roop toes the line against Iuri Alcantara. Rounding out the preliminary card will be a light heavyweight showdown between Roger Hollett and Wagner Prado, as well as a lightweight tilt featuring C.J. Keith and Francisco Trinaldo.
Bisping, 33, has won five of his last six bouts, with only a hard-fought decision loss to Chael Sonnen marring his record in that span. “The Count” last competed on Sept. 22, when he used his superior boxing to outpoint the heavy-handed Brian Stann at UFC 152. Prior to stumbling against Sonnen this past January, the Brit had won four-straight bouts, outpointing Dan Miller and Yoshihiro Akiyama in 2010 before knocking out Jorge Rivera and Jason Miller last year.
Belfort, meanwhile, enters the cage on the heels of a short return to the light heavyweight division. “The Phenom” stepped up on short notice to face 205-pound king Jon Jones at UFC 152 and gave the highly-regarded champion a scare in the bout’s opening minutes by throwing up a deep armbar attempt from his back. “Bones” would escape the hold and go on to submit Belfort in round four, however, halting a two-fight winning streak for the 35-year-old.