The UFC is known to set the grandest of stages for its ever-growing and talented roster. Athletes from all over the world have graced the Octagon for almost 30 years now. Unfortunately, history has proven that sometimes luck just doesn’t favor certain cards, no matter how stacked the Las Vegas-based promotion makes them.
Ahead of this weekend’s pay-per-view offering from the promotion, UFC 288 has suffered several massive blows, two in the main card alone. The main event features a bantamweight clash between reigning champion Aljamain Sterling and former two-division champion Henry Cejudo. Cejudo is returning from a 3-year hiatus since his last Octagon outing in 2020.
Here’s your first look at the official #UFC288 poster 🤩
[ Sat. May 6 | 📍 @PruCenter | https://t.co/iSEFCBODin ] pic.twitter.com/uqBqI2Dn8i
— UFC (@ufc) April 6, 2023
Former lightweight king Charles Oliveira and featherweight fan favorite Bryce Mitchell were both initially scheduled to be on the main card. Sadly, in a span of less than a month, the duo’s respective bouts fell off, which has damaged the main card of the upcoming PPV.
Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush rescheduled to UFC 289
Previously, the UFC had booked Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush as the co-main event of the May 6 event. However, due to a minor yet undisclosed injury, the Brazilian had to pull out of the contest. It is worth noting that the two were previously scheduled to fight each other in 2020. And coincidentally, it was again Oliveira who had pulled out at the time, again due to undisclosed reasons.
For the fans who believe in third-time’s a charm, they are in for some good news. Just five days after Oliveira pulled out, UFC president Dana White announced that they have successfully put the crucial bout back on the books. The duo gets to keep their co-main slot, as they will face each other at UFC 289 headlined by Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana.
Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush is now slated as the lightweight co-main event at UFC 289, UFC announced. pic.twitter.com/D8Fy19TcTA
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 21, 2023
The fight will take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 10. Oliveira looks to rebound from his recent loss to Islam Makhachev, which snapped his 11-fight win streak. On the other hand, the Iranian fighter will lock down his first crack at UFC gold with a win over ‘Do Bronx.’
Movsar Evloev will now face Diego Lopes
Another loss that occurred to the upcoming main card involved featherweight star, Bryce Mitchell. The 28-year-old was supposed to battle it out with Jonathan Pearce initially in an important featherweight matchup. The winner had chances to enter the title picture and be one or two bouts away from a potential title shot.
Unfortunately, Pearce, who was riding on a 5-fight win streak, pulled out due to an undisclosed injury. This left the promotion to hunt for a quick replacement. The company ended up finding an opponent Bryce was once scheduled to face. Movsar Evloev, who was previously scheduled to face the American in November 2022, stepped in on short notice.
Updated #UFC288 card
– Diego Lopes replacing the injured Bryce Mitchell against Movsar Evloev. (first rep. @CCLegaspi)
– A few updated photos. pic.twitter.com/C6EwExbGj5
— Marcel Dorff 🇳🇱🇮🇩 (@BigMarcel24) May 4, 2023
However, it looks like the pair can’t catch a break. ESPN Deportes reported that Bryce withdrew from the newly scheduled fight due to an injury. Thankfully, the promotion has found a newcomer named Diego Lopes, who will step in on five days’ notice. The 28-year-old will make his UFC debut this Saturday and holds a 21-5 MMA record as of now.
Preliminary card fight cancellations
Aside from the above-mentioned main card cancelations, UFC 288 suffered two more blows. An early prelim middleweight clash between Nathan Maness and Zhalgas Zhumagulov has also been taken off the shelves. As per reports, Maness suffered an undisclosed injury.
Aside from this, Andre Petroski and Armen Petrosyan were looking to lock horns on the preliminary card. Unfortunately, Petroski pulled out a bit more than two weeks ago due to an injury. No replacements have yet been found for the above two bouts.