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The final Ultimate Fighting Championship event on “Fight Island” has undergone some sudden changes.
On Thursday, the UFC announced that Paul Craig (12-4-1) will be facing Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6) at light heavyweight at the UFC Fight Night event on July 25. This card will take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Craig was originally set to square off against Ryan Spann in March, but his event was scratched due to the coronavirus pandemic. Antigulov encountered a similar situation when his event on June 13 – one later rescheduled from Kazakhstan to the U.S. – was similarly impacted by COVID-19 and his pairing with Klidson Abreu was scuttled.
When victorious, “Bearjew” has finished all 12 of his opponents. He went the distance for the first time in his career against Mauricio Rua in November, where the two fought to an unexpected split draw. Before his draw, the Scot alternated wins and losses in each of his last six. Craig holds the unusual distinction of being the only fighter in UFC history to win and lose a bout with 10 seconds left in the match. Craig tapped Magomed Ankalev at 4:59 of Round 3, while Jim Crute submitted him at 4:51 also in the third frame.
The Dagestani fighter posts a nearly impressive finish rate of 95 percent, with each of his last eight bouts ending inside the distance, win or lose. Antigulov is on a two-fight skid, with each coming by first-round knockout to Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk. Since the defeat to Oleksiejczuk, Antigulov has struggled to get a fight, with three bouts falling through for one reason or another against Ed Herman, Devin Clark and Abreu.
In addition to the Craig-Antigulov addition, two matchups have also changed. Danny Roberts has been forced to pull out of his bout with Nicolas Dalby, while Shavkat Rakhmonov has also had to withdraw from his contest against Ramazan Emeev. MMA Junkie was first to report this news on Thursday. The reasons for their withdrawals are currently undisclosed, and the promotion has not yet tapped replacement opponents for Dalby and Emeev.
Roberts was looking to keep it rolling after a faceplanting knockout of Zelim Imadaev, and in doing so became the first fighter to finish the Russian as a pro. The victory snapped a two-fight finish skid against Claudio Henrique da Silva and Michel Pereira. Rakhmonov will have to wait until later to make his UFC debut, as the unbeaten Kazakhstani fighter was signed after winning 12 bouts and finishing each opponent.
The July 25 event will take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The card will be headlined by a middleweight tilt between former champ Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. The co-main will see a trilogy match between Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, as the two have previously met in 2005 and 2015 – “Shogun” won both by decision.
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