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A fun brawl between excellently nicknamed Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweights has been added to the February pay-per-view card.
MMA Junkie first announced on Friday that Julian Marquez (7-2) would be taking on Maki Pitolo (13-7) at UFC 258 on Feb. 13. According to Marquez, who confirmed the pairing on Twitter shortly after the news broke, the battle will take place on the main card opener. The two will meet presumably on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, although that destination has not yet been confirmed by the promotion.
Marquez is chomping at the bit to get back in the cage, as he last competed in July 2018 and suffered a major shoulder injury that kept him out of action for nearly two and a half years. Marquez planned on competing in November against Saparbek Safarov, but the Russian’s failed weight cut scuttled the matchup. Now, Marquez, who sports a 100 percent finish rate, will be competing three months after the Safarov fight disintegrated. “The Cuban Missile Crisis” will be looking to get back in the win column, as his previous performance ended with a split decision loss to Alessio Di Chirico at the “The Ultimate Fighter: Season 27” Finale.
When Marquez last competed, Pitolo was on the Bellator MMA roster, with a one-fight stint against Chris Cisneros at Bellator 213. Like Marquez, Pitolo gained his place on the UFC roster with an impressive showing on Dana White's Contender Series. “Coconut Bombz” has not been as successful since clobbering Justin Sumter in 2019, however, dropping three of four inside the Octagon including a current two-fight skid to Darren Stewart and Impa Kasanganay in August. Although not as high as his opponent’s, the Hawaiian sports a solid finish rate of 77 percent.
UFC 258 will likely go down at the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 13. The event is expected to be headlined by a welterweight championship affair between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. A high-stakes rematch sits on the main card as well, as Chris Weidman runs it back with the resurgent Uriah Hall at middleweight.