let's go baby!!— Lerone Murphy (@LeroneMurphy) December 3, 2020
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The Ultimate Fighting Championship is now starting the new year off with three events in a week.
The news first broke from MMA Fighting on Wednesday night that the promotion is adding an event to its early 2021 calendar. The Jan. 20 Fight Night event is expected to take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, between the card headlined by Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar and UFC 257 topped by Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2. Three bouts have been reported, with two confirmed by other outlets, including a flyweight encounter initially reported by Combate between newly signed Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1, 1 NC) and Jerome Rivera (10-3).
Figueiredo, brother of flyweight kingpin Deiveson Figueiredo, will make his way down to 125 pounds after a career spent mostly at bantamweight. “Sniper” is riding a three-fight unbeaten streak into his signing, with two knockouts over Vitor Leandro and Manoel Moreira dos Santos Jr., followed by a draw against Eduardo de Souza Silva. The Brazilian has not competed since September 2019, but not for a lack of trying – a previously scheduled pairing under the Jungle Fight banner with Klinger Pinheiro Ferreira was scuttled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Figueiredo posts an impressive finish rate of 91 percent.
Rivera was originally slated to face Ode Osbourne at the Jan. 30 event, but he was pulled from that matchup due to undisclosed reasons. Signed from the 2020 season of Dana White's Contender Series, Rivera made his debut a month and a half later when he met Tyson Nam in September. Nam ultimately punched him out, to become the first man to stop “The Renegade” with strikes. The loss broke at three-fight win streak which saw him tap out Gene Perez and Kendrick Latchman en route to a spot on the Contender Series. Rivera owns a 70 percent submission rate, and he has never won a fight by knockout.
The first fight for the Jan. 20 card announced by MMA Fighting was actually a featherweight clash between Lerone Murphy (9-0-1) and Douglas Silva de Andrade (26-3, 1 NC). Britain’s Murphy has yet to taste defeat as a pro, fighting to a draw in his promotional debut at UFC 242 in 2019. He rebounded from that draw with a first-round knockout of Ricardo Ramos in July. De Andrade will be making his return to the promotion after nearly a year off, although a match in March against Movsar Evloev was scratched when “D’Silva” pulled out. The Brazilian has alternated wins and losses in his last five, starting with a spinning back fist knockout of Enrique Briones in 2016.
Finally, MyMMANews reported on Thursday that the women’s flyweight tilt between Roxanne Modafferi (25-17) and Viviane Araujo (9-2) has been moved up 10 days to serve on this card instead. Since returning to the Octagon in 2017 from a victory with Invicta Fighting Championships, Modafferi has not won or lost consecutive bouts. Of note, her decision win over Maycee Barber marked one of the biggest upsets in 2020. Her opponent Araujo is also trying to put a win streak together, as she suffered a loss to Jessica Eye only to bounce back and take a unanimous verdict over Montana De La Rosa in September.
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