UFC® RETURNS TO NASHVILLE WITH A MARCH 23rd BATTLE BETWEEN ELITE STRIKERS, EXCLUSIVELY ON ESPN+
(#4) STEPHEN THOMPSON vs. (#8 – LW) ANTHONY PETTIS
(#4) CURTIS BLAYDES vs. (#10) JUSTIN WILLIS
UFC® returns to Nashville, Tenn. for the first time in almost two years with a battle between two of the most elite strikers in UFC history as two-time welterweight title challenger and current No.4-ranked contender Stephen Thompson looks to spoil the 170-pound debut of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Also, No.4-ranked heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes intends to bounce back into the win column by handing Justin Willis his first loss in the UFC. UFC FIGHT NIGHT ON ESPN+®:
THOMPSON vs. PETTIS will stream live from Bridgestone Arena exclusively on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 23, with the ESPN+ prelims kicking off the evening at 4 p.m. CT/5 p.m. ET. Doors open at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET. All UFC live events on ESPN+ will be available in English and Spanish.
A five-time world champion in kickboxing with an incredible record of 58-0 with over 40 KOs, Thompson (14-3-1, fighting out of Simpsonville, S.C.) is one of the most highly-decorated strikers to ever compete in the UFC. Since joining the UFC in 2012, Thompson compiled a record of 9-3-1, including first-round KOs over former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Now set to compete for this first time in almost a year, Thompson aims to re-enter the championship conversation by securing the sixth post-fight bonus of his career with another highlight-reel KO.
Former lightweight champion and featherweight title challenger Pettis (21-8, fighting out of Milwaukee, Wis.) competes in his third weight class under the UFC banner as he moves up to welterweight in the Octagon for the first time. A third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Pettis has landed some of the most spectacular KOs in UFC history, including back-to-back first-round KOs over Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. Coming off one of the best fights of 2018 against Tony Ferguson in the co-main event of UFC 229, Pettis is eager to return to the Octagon and put on another bonus-winning performance for his fans.
Hoping to kick off 2019 with another long winning streak, Blaydes (10-2, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.) will look to secure his ninth victory by way of KO. A 2012 NJCAA national champion in wrestling, Blaydes smoothly transitioned to MMA and has already defeated legends such as Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem in his young career. Now, Blaydes aims to insert himself back into the title picture with his sixth win in the Octagon.
Willis (8-1, fighting out of San Jose, Calif.) intends to stay undefeated in the UFC as he prepares to take on the highest-ranked opponent of his career. After losing his first professional fight, Willis has won eight bouts in a row, with four of those victories coming by way of KO. Coming off the biggest win of his career against Hunt, Willis now looks to continue his momentum and work towards his first UFC title shot.
Announced bouts on the card include:
No.1-ranked flyweight contender Jussier Formiga (22-5, fighting out of Natal, Brazil) looks to secure his first UFC title shot by being the only man to defeat No.4-ranked Deiveson Figueiredo (15-0, fighting out of Soure, Brazil)
No.5-ranked women’s flyweight contender Alexis Davis (19-8, fighting out of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) intends to defend her spot in line for the title when she battles former Invicta flyweight champion Jennifer Maia (15-5-1, fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil)
No.14-ranked women’s strawweight contender Randa Markos (8-7-1, fighting out of Windsor, Ontario, Canada) aims to break into the top-10 with an impressive performance over veteran Angela Hill (8-5, fighting out of San Diego, Calif.)
In a flyweight bout, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series standout Maycee Barber (6-0, fighting out of Denver, Colo.) looks to stay undefeated in her career when she takes on JJ Aldrich (7-2, fighting out of Westminster, Colo.)
Both hungry for their first UFC win, Martin Day (8-3, fighting out of Kailua, Hawaii) battles Chris Gutierrez (12-3-1, fighting out of Littleton, Colo.)
The Ultimate Fighter semi-finalist Bryce Mitchell (10-0, fighting out of Searcy, Ark.) looks to stay undefeated as he takes on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series signee Bobby Moffett (14-3, fighting out of Homewood, Ill.)
John Makdessi (16-6, fighting out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada) aims to make it three wins in a row when he takes on German prospect Nasrat Haqparast (10-2, fighting out of Hamburg, Germany)