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For the first time in nearly three years, Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Johnny Eduardo will be back in action.
Per a report initially from MMA Junkie on Thursday, Eduardo (28-12) will be squaring off with Anthony Birchak (16-7) on the March 20 UFC event. The Fight Night card, which does not currently have a designation as it could air on ESPN or the ESPN+ streaming service, is slated to take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The pairing has since been confirmed by Birchak on his social media.
Eduardo will take his first trip to the Octagon since an unsuccessful outing against Nathaniel Wood at UFC Fight Night 131 in June 2018. Since then, the Brazilian has not been booked in any UFC match, nor has he publicly suffered from any illnesses or injuries to keep him out of the cage for this long. Although he intended to return earlier, 2020 kept him grounded due to visa issues related to coronavirus travel restrictions. “Pretinho” will be looking to right the ship after a pair of stoppage losses to Matthew Lopez and the aforementioned Wood in 2017 and 2016. The Brazilian has never competed more than once with the UFC in any calendar year since making his debut in 2011.
Birchak’s return to the promotion in November was an unsuccessful one, where he snapped a three-fight first-round finish streak by getting tapped out by Gustavo Lopez. Birchak initially competed four times with the promotion from 2014 to 2016, winning over Dileno Lopes and Joe Soto while suffering stoppage losses to Ian Entwistle and Joe Soto. Three consecutive failed appearances with Rizin Fighting Federation prompted the bantamweight to return to his finishing ways, as the three wins away from the UFC or Rizin lifted his stoppage rate to 81 percent.
The UFC Fight Night card on March 20 will take place in the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, where it will be topped by a high-stakes middleweight collision between Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland. An additional main card tilt on the lineup comes at light heavyweight, when Paul Craig will attempt to become the first man to defeat Jamahal Hill.