UFC® makes its debut appearance in the Capital Region and there will be no shortage of fireworks for the inaugural event. One of the rising stars of the heavyweight division gets the nod for his first main event as No. 10 Derrick Lewis meets fellow divisional standout Shamil Abdurakhimov. UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: LEWIS vs. ABDURAKHIMOV will be stacked with the best young stars from the Empire State. The event takes place Friday, Dec. 9 at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. and will air live on UFC FIGHT PASS®.
Lewis (16-4, fighting out of Houston, Texas) has won seven of his nine Octagon® appearances since entering the UFC in 2014. Riding a four-fight winning streak, “The Black Beast” has finished 15 of his 16 pro wins – seven via first-round knockout. Abdurakhimov (17-3, fighting out of Dagestan, Russia) hopes to crack the top-15 heavyweights in the world with a big win over Lewis this December. A well-rounded competitor with nine first-round finishes and the ability to knock an opponent out or submit him, Abdurakhimov poses the biggest threat Lewis has seen thus far in his career. With 26 finishes between them, this bout has Fight of the Night written all over it.
In the red-hot bantamweight division, No. 3 Raphael Assuncao (23-5, fighting out of Alpharetta, Ga.) enters enemy territory when he clashes with lifelong New Yorker and the No. 8-ranked Aljamain Sterling (12-1, fighting out of Uniondale, N.Y.). Assuncao is a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt whose slick ground game is a serious threat for everyone in the division. With wins over the likes of TJ Dillashaw and Bryan Caraway, the Brazilian is a perennial contender who is never more than a win or two away from a shot at UFC gold. Sterling, one of MMA’s most exciting prospects and vibrant personalities, hopes to put on a show with another flashy finish when he makes his first pro appearance in his home state. A win over a talented veteran in Assuncao would catapult Sterling to the top of one of the most exciting divisions in the sport.
No. 13 Patrick Cummins (8-4, fighting out of Dana Point, Calif.) will attempt to ruin No. 15 Gian Villante’s (14-7, fighting out of Bellmore, N.Y.) New York homecoming in a light heavyweight showdown. Cummins, a two-time NCAA Div. 1 All-American wrestler out of Penn State University, uses his elite level grappling to dictate the pace and location of the fight; and with four knockouts and two submissions in eight professional victories, he has the ability to finish the fight wherever it goes. Standing in his way of another win is Villante, a fan favorite whose heavy hands make all his fights a must-see. A training partner of former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Villante comes from one of the top gyms in the sport and he intends to make New York proud with another highlight reel knockout.
- One of the heavyweight division’s fastest rising prospects, No. 13 Francis Ngannou (8-1, fighting out of Paris, France) meets fellow up-and-comer Anthony Hamilton (15-5, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.)
- No. 11 light heavyweight Corey Anderson (9-2, fighting out of Robbinsville, N.J.) clashes with power puncher Sean O’Connell (17-8, fighting out of Salt Lake City, Utah)
- Knockout artist Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2, fighting out of New York, N.Y.) collides with Joe Gigliotti (7-1, fighting out of Gilbert, Ariz.) at 185 pounds
- New York’s own Randy Brown (8-1, fighting out of Queens, N.Y.) welcomes Conor McGregor’s teammate Charlie Ward (2-1, fighting out of Dublin, Ireland) to the Octagon in a welterweight showdown
- Upstate New York’s undefeated Keith Berish (5-0, 1 NC, fighting out of Kingston, N.Y.) moves to middleweight to face Canada’s Ryan Janes (8-1, fighting out of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
- No. 15 ranked strawweight Juliana Lima (8-3, fighting out of Belo Horizonte, Brazil) takes on the undefeated winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 23, Tatiana Suarez (5-0, fighting out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)
- Master of Sambo Zubaira Tukhugov (18-4, fighting out of Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia) meets dangerous finisher Tiago Trator (20-5-2, 1 NC, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in a featherweight bout
- The most recent winner of The Ultimate Fighter® Andrew Sanchez (9-2, fighting out of Fairfield, N.J.) clashes with fellow wrestling standout Trevor Smith (14-6, fighting out of Tukwila, Wash.) at 185-pounds
- New Jersey’s Frankie Perez (10-2, fighting out of Howell, N.J.) returns to action against highly touted lightweight prospect Marc Diakiese (10-0, fighting out of Manchester, England)