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Khamzat Chimaev will fight former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the headline attraction of the UFC’s debut card in Saudi Arabia, Dana White confirmed overnight.

The bout will serve as a number one contender matchup for Dricus du Plessis’ middleweight title, and will Chimaev’s second top contender fight in succession after previously defeating Kamaru Usman in a three-round decision in Abu Dhabi in October. Chimaev, though, was leapfrogged in the list of contenders at 185-pounds by Du Plessis, who defeated Sean Strickland for the championship in Canada in January.

Whittaker, the former middleweight champion, will enter the bout on the back of a decision victory against Paulo Costa last month.

“On Saturday, June 22nd, we’ll be going to Saudi Arabia,” White said in a video posted to social media. “Our first fight in the Kingdom will be a Fight Night that will air live and free on ABC. In the main event will be former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker versus 13-0 undefeated Khamzat Chimaev to see who will be the number one contender for the UFC middleweight championship.”

White also revealed a slew of other fights scheduled to take place on the card. We’ve got Johnny Walker versus Volkan Oezdemir

“The co-main event, the number three ranked knockout artist Sergey Pavlovich versus the number six ranked Alexander Volkov. Also, Kelvin Gastelum will be taking on Daniel Rodriguez.”

White added: “This card is going to badass from top to bottom. It’s going to be historic; it’s our first-ever show from the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has in recent years sought to establish itself as a hotbed of combat sports, hosting a range of high profile boxing matches as well as forging a relationship with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) to host events on its territory.

The UFC’s debut show in the region hints at the establishment of a broader relationship between the organisation and decision makers in the Middle East, and follows the promotion’s already established links with Abu Dhabi.