The UFC are returning to Dublin for the first time in nearly five years in August, and they have a main event on tap which looks like it will make the wait more than worth it.
According to a report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC have made inroads into securing a 185-pound main event between Darren Till and Robert Whittaker to serve as the event’s centrepiece in a bout which will have significant ramifications as to the identity of Israel Adesanya’s future title rivals.
Contracts have yet to be signed but it is understood that discussions have taken place between all three parties. Assuming there is no impasse in negotiations, the fight should be made official in the coming days.
The event, set for the 3 Arena on August 15, will be the UFC’s first card in Ireland since October 2015. That card was topped by a flyweight fight between Paddy Holohan and Louis Smolka, after an initial main event between Dustin Poirier and Joe Duffy was nixed on the week of the fight owing to an injury suffered by the Irish fighter in training. The event also lost a high profile co-main event between Stipe Miocic and Ben Rothwell.
It is perhaps for this reason that the UFC have opted to stack the deck top-heavy with a bout which could easily serve as a high-profile fight on a US pay-per-view event.
Till will come into the fight on the back of his debut win in the middleweight fold against Kelvin Gastelum, while Whittaker will compete for the first time since losing the 185-pound championship to Adesanya in October of last year.
UFC events in Dublin have traditionally been popular with both fans and fighters alike in mixed martial arts. Although the UFC have held only a handful of events on the island, each has been received well. The 2013 event in Dublin headlined by Conor McGregor against Diego Brandao is considered one of the more memorable events in recent UFC history. Another high profile main event between Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin was the main event of the promotion’s first trip to the Irish capital in 2009.
The UFC has also held cards in Belfast, Northern Ireland on two occasions. The first was again headlined by Rich Franklin in the summer of 2007, while Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall fought in the SSE Arena in November 2016.