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The new year is starting off troubling for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which lost a pair of promising Brazilian fighters from the first pay-per-view of 2022.
On Thursday morning, MMA Junkie announced that Warlley Alves (14-5) had been forced out of his welterweight clash with the debuting Jack Della Maddalena (10-2) for currently undisclosed reasons. Several hours later, ESPN Deportes broke the story that ranked flyweight Viviane Araujo (10-3) will no longer be facing Alexa Grasso (13-3) due to an injury. The organization is seeking replacements for both Alves and Araujo at UFC 270, which will take place on Jan. 22 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Winner of the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” Alves has struggled as of late to gain any momentum in any direction. The Brazilian has alternated wins and losses in his last six dating back to 2018, and none of those six bouts have gone the distance. In 2021, he rebounded from his first submission loss against Randy Brown by knocking Mounir Lazzez out in half a round, only to get smashed by Jeremiah Wells six months later.
Maddalena, a signee out of the 2021 season of Dana White's Contender Series, finds himself on an impressive 10-fight win streak coming into his promotional debut. At DWCS against Ange Loosa, he went to the scorecards for the first time in his career, impressing the matchmaking team and UFC head Dana White enough to snare a contract. A whopping 80% of the Aussie’s wins have come by knockout, all within two rounds.
Since making her promotional debut in 2019, Araujo has only fallen short to ex-title challengers Jessica Eye and Katlyn Chookagian, while overcoming names including Roxanne Modafferi, Alexis Davis and Montana De La Rosa on her way up the division. The 35-year-old from Brazil was aiming to start 2022 off right, as it would have been about one year since her previous victory on Jan. 20, 2021, which came over the aforementioned Modafferi. Her last three victories have come on the scorecards, which accounts for all of the decision wins of her career.
Grasso will be awaiting a new name, likely against a ranked opponent if available, as she looks to extend her win streak to three. In 2020 she topped Ji Yeon Kim by decision, and came back in February 2021 to claim a unanimous verdict over the highly touted Maycee Barber. The fighter out of Mexico moved up to flyweight after struggling on the scales in early 2020 to reach the 115-pound mark, and has won ever since.
UFC 270 will be staged inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 22. The main attraction comes in the form of a heavyweight title unification battle when feared knockout artist Francis Ngannou takes on unbeaten Frenchman Ciryl Gane. The co-headliner sees a trilogy match for flyweight gold when Brandon Moreno looks to defend his strap for the first time against ex-125-pound kingpin Deiveson Figueiredo. An additional highly anticipated main card tilt will take place at featherweight, when two undefeated prospects in Movsar Evloev and Ilia Topuria clash.
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