A recently reviled Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter finds herself not only still on the roster, but in a fight next month.
On Thursday, multiple changes were announced from various sources to the UFC Fight Night event on Feb. 26. The first comes in the form of a flyweight tilt first reported by John Hyon Ko between Ji Yeon Kim (9-4-2) and Priscila Cachoeira (10-4), which has since been confirmed by other outlets. The pairing may come as a surprise, with Cachoeira stepping up on relatively short notice even though many expected she would be cut from the roster following multiple eye gouges in her last outing.
Kim was initially slated to take on Poliana Botelho at UFC 270, only for Botelho to withdraw and scuttle the pairing. Kim recent posted on her Instagram of her struggles with COVID-19, and also disclosed that a former opponent contracted the virus on fight week to scrap a past fight. “Fire Fist” will be looking to snap a two-fight skid, where she dropped decisions to Alexa Grasso and Molly McCann, in her lone appearances in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The South Korean intends on lifting her UFC record to .500 with a win over the Brazilian.
Cachoeira finds herself in another UFC fight even after the debacle that was her last time out. Against Gillian Robertson in December, “Zombie Girl” missed weight by several pounds, and then in the fight itself, blatantly gouged her thumb into Robertson’s eye a couple times to fight off a choke. Ultimately tapping out in the last second of the first round, the Brazilian was instantly chastised for her move and called out by the likes of commentator Joe Rogan and UFC head Dana White. Cachoeira’s manager, Wallid Ismail, informed Sherdog recently that she would remain on the roster, and he challenged the notion that she intentionally poked her opponent in the eye.
Another women’s bout was also set for this fight card, per the UFC China website (h/t to Marcel Dorff), that the promotion has booked Josiane Nunes (8-1) against Yanan Wu (12-4) in the bantamweight division.
Nunes made a splash in her promotional debut in August 2021, shellacking the much taller Bea Malecki with one punch to improve her win streak to seven. The 5-foot-3 Brazilian bantamweight earned a place on the roster on the heels of six consecutive wins on the regional circuit, with her last five coming by knockout within two rounds. Her lone career defeat came against current top flyweight contender Taila Santos in 2013.
China’s Wu will be trying to put an end to a two-fight decision loss streak, in which she fell short to Mizuki Inoue in 2019 and then dropped a unanimous verdict to Joselyne Edwards in 2021. Wu has had a difficult UFC tenure to date, with five fight cancellations among four actual bouts since her 2017 promotional debut. Most recently, she attempted to face ex-flyweight champ Nicco Montano in July 2021, but Montano missed weight by seven pounds to force its cancellation.
Finally, the UFC has relocated a recently booked heavyweight clash of Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Marcin Tybura from this event to UFC 273 in April. The reshuffling was first reported by MMA Fighting, although the reason is currently unknown for its shift by over a month.
The UFC Fight Night card on Feb. 26 will be held inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with a pivotal lightweight headliner between Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev bolstering the event. The remaining bout order has not yet been set, but it is expected that a light heavyweight clash between Ryan Spann and Ion Cutelaba as well as a lightweight battle pitting Arman Tsarukyan against Joel Alvarez will be placed high on the billing.