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Justin Gaethje gets new opponent for WSOF 34 title defense

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Justin Gaethje will look to defend his long-held belt against Luiz Firmino on Dec. 31 at WSOF 34, promotion officials announced Tuesday. Gaethje's original opponent, Joao Zeferino, withdrew from the title bout earlier this week due to an undisclosed injury.

Gaethje (16-0) is WSOF's longest reigning champion and one of the promotion's most talented fighters. The 28-year-old Arizona native has racked up a flawless 9-0 record inside the WSOF cage while successfully defending his lightweight strap five consecutive times since 2014 -- a run highlighted by a pair of thrilling victories over Luis Palomino and a decision win over Melvin Guillard.

An all-action fighter with a fan-friendly style, Gaethje dispatched Brian Foster via leg kick TKO in his most recent outing this past March at WSOF 29.

Gaethje will now attempt to make the sixth defense of his lightweight strap against Firmino (19-7), a 34-year-old veteran who has competed in Pride FC, DREAM, and most recently CFA, where he captured the promotion's lightweight title with a 2013 decision win over Palomino.

Firmino kicked off his WSOF career with a trio of decision wins over Jacob Volkmann, Tyson Griffin, and Caros Fodor. That run ended in October though, when Firmino lost via first-round submission to Foster at WSOF 33.

WSOF 34 takes place Dec. 31 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The event is headlined by four title fights and the main card is scheduled to air live on NBC.

An updated WSOF 34 fight card can be seen below.

Main Card
Justin Gaethje vs. Luiz Firmino
Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shields
Paul Bradley vs. Yushin Okami
Marlon Moraes vs. Josenaldo Silva

Preliminary Card
David Branch vs. Louis Taylor
Caio Alencar vs. Jared Rosholt
Shane Kruchten vs. Jeremy Mahon
Smealinho Rama vs. Jake Heun
Bruno Santos vs. Vagab Vagabov
Bruce Boyington vs. Andre Harrison