Alex Pereira’s light heavyweight debut and Paulo Costa’s return are highlights of UFC 291 main card.
UFC President Dana White announced the complete main card for UFC 291 event and confirmed BMF title Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje as the main event along with other blockbuster bouts. He also confirmed the date and location to be July 29, 2023, and Delta Arena(Vivint Arena) in Salt Lake City, UT, respectively.
Former Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira is set to move up to light heavyweight division after having difficulties cutting to a middleweight limit of 185 lbs. He lost the title back to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 which was his first loss in UFC and second in MMA. Facing Pereira will be former Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz. The clash will be the co-main event of UFC 291.
Blachowicz will be returning for the first time since a split draw to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282. That bout was for the vacant Light Heavyweight title, but neither man was awarded the title due to a draw. Blachowicz is the #3 ranked fighter in 205 lbs division in UFC while Pereira holds #1 rank in the middleweight division.
Paulo Costa will be returning to the octagon for the first time since signing a new deal with UFC which sees him reportedly earn upto $1 million. He last faced Luke Rockhold at UFC 278 before his fight against Robert Whittaker at UFC 284 was scrapped due to pay dispute. Costa will fight Russian Phenom Ikram Aliskerov.
Aliskerov signed with UFC through Dana White Contender Series 2022. He defeated Phil Hawes at UFC 288 earlier this month in his promotional debut. Aliskerov holds a 14-1 record overall with his only loss coming to Khamzat Chimaev under Brave CF in 2019.
UFC 291 card also includes a lightweight bout between veterans Tony Ferguson and Bobby Green. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson faces Michel Pereira in the main card opener. The prelims will feature heavyweight Derrick Lewis taking on Marcos Rogério de Lima and a welterweight bout between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Holland.