The Ultimate Fighting Championship is planning on restoring its headliners from postponed cards to upcoming events.
MMA Junkie initially reported on Friday that the UFC is rescheduling two main events from past cards to the ones announced earlier in the day. The first is at light heavyweight, between former title challengers Anthony Smith (33-14) and Glover Teixeira (30-7), and it will sit atop the May 13 event. The other is a heavyweight rumble between Alistair Overeem (45-18, 1 NC) and Walt Harris (13-7, 1 NC), which will be the marquis attraction on the May 16 event.
Smith rebounded from his unsuccessful jaunt for the light heavyweight strap against Jon Jones in March 2019 by tapping Alexander Gustafsson in June 2019. Since then, he fought to two draws in grappling contests against Gregor Gracie and Gesias Cavalcante at Quintet Ultra in December, and was originally matched up against Teixeira for April in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event fell through due to the coronavirus.
Teixeira is currently riding a three-fight win streak, his longest since 2016. In that span, he tapped Karl Roberson and Ion Cutelaba, while taking a narrow split verdict over Nikita Krylov. Against Krylov, Teixeira pushed the then-32-fight vet to his first decision, win or lose.
Harris first announced that the fight would be reset on May 16 earlier in April, although the promotion later postponed events indefinitely. It was unclear how far the postponed events would stretch, and on Friday, UFC President Dana White announced that a slew of fight cards will be going down in mid-May.
This matchup will be the third time that Harris and Overeem have been booked against one another. With a 100 percent knockout rate, Harris is riding a four-fight unbeaten streak that saw him smash Alexey Oleynik, Sergey Spivak and Daniel Spitz dating back to 2018. His opponent Overeem celebrates a high finish rate of 89 percent, and had a two-fight knockout win streak snapped in the last seconds by Jairzinho Rozenstruik at their UFC on ESPN 7 headliner in December.
Both UFC Fight Nights 171 and 172 will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. It is unclear if other fights for the event originally set to take place on May 16 will remain on this card, or if the entire lineup will be changed.