Las Vegas – UFC® will debut in Utica, N.Y. with an action-packed card, headlined by a pivotal bantamweight grudge match between No.4-ranked Jimmie Rivera and No.5 Marlon Moraes. Leading into the event, the top 135-pound fighters have engaged in several heated exchanges through the press and social media and this June, they will settle the score in the Octagon®. UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: RIVERA vs. MORAES takes place at Adirondack Bank Center on Friday, June 1 and will air live on FS1.
Currently riding a spectacular 20-fight win streak, Rivera (21-1, fighting out of Ramsey, N.J.) aims to stake his claim for a 135-pound title shot. Since joining the UFC roster in 2015, he has earned dynamic victories over Thomas Almeida, Iuri Alcantara, Pedro Munhoz and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber. He now aims for an emphatic win to secure a crack at the belt.
Standing in his way is dangerous finisher Moraes (20-5-1, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Having won 9 of his last 10, the Muay Thai striker and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt delivered one of 2017’s most spectacular knockouts in December against Aljamain Sterling. A former champion on the regional circuit, Moraes now looks to use Rivera as a stepping stone up the bantamweight ranks.
Also, at UFC FIGHT NIGHT: RIVERA vs. MORAES, undefeated New Yorker Gregor Gillespie battles surging Vinc Pichel.
Gillespie (11-0, fighting out of Long Island, N.Y.) has been on a tear since entering the UFC in 2016. Proving to be equally dangerous in striking and grappling, the former NCAA Division I wrestler and Rochester, N.Y. native has earned impressive finishes against Andrew Holbrook, Jason Gonzalez and Jordan Rinaldi. Already 1-0 in 2018, Gillespie expects to keep his momentum rolling with another show-stealing victory.
Pichel (11-1, fighting out of Simi Valley, Calif.) first made waves on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2012. A gritty striker and grappler, Pichel has put together an impressive four-fight winning streak. During this run, he’s bested Joaquim Silva, Damien Brown, Anthony Njokuani and Garett Whiteley. Pichel now has his sights set on handing Gillespie the first loss of his career.
Additional bouts on the card include:
KO artists collide when No.14-ranked light heavyweight contender Gian Villante (16-9, fighting out of Bellmore, N.Y.) takes on Sam Alvey (32-10 1NC, fighting out of Temecula, Calif.)
In a battle of The Ultimate Fighter®: A New World Champion alums, No.2-ranked women’s flyweight contender Sijara Eubanks (3-2, fighting out of Toms River, N.J.) faces No.3-ranked Lauren Murphy (10-3, fighting out of Glendale, Ariz.)
Welterweight veterans throw down, as Jake Ellenberger (31-13, fighting out of Lake Forest, Calif.) makes his 20th UFC appearance against Ben Saunders (21-9-2, fighting out of Orlando, Fla.)
Jessica Aguilar (19-6, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) looks to net her first UFC win when she squares off with Jodie Esquibel (6-3, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.)
In an exciting heavyweight bout, Walt Harris (10-7, fighting out of Birmingham, Ala.) meets Daniel Spitz (6-1, fighting out of Spokane, Wash.)
Hector Sandoval (14-4, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif. by way of Uruapan, Mexico) locks horns with fellow flyweight prospect Jarred Brooks (13-1, fighting out of Detroit, Mich.)