Ex-champion Cody Garbrandt is returning to his old stomping grounds at bantamweight, where he’s expected to clash with submission specialist Rani Yahya at the upcoming UFC event scheduled on July 9.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Wednesday with verbal agreements in place from the athletes.
Garbrandt will go back to 135 pounds after a brief stop at flyweight, which ended with a TKO loss to Kai Kara-France this past December. The Ohio native had been teasing a move to 125 pounds for quite some time, but now, he’ll return to bantamweight where he previously reigned as champion.
While Garbrandt has suffered through a lot of ups and downs recently, he’ll look to get a fresh start in his return to action in July as he seeks to rebuild himself in the division after picking up past wins over the likes of Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao and Thomas Almeida.
As for Yahya, he’ll try to pick up arguably the biggest win of his career when he clashes with Garbrandt in July.
The Brazilian has enjoyed a good run lately with a 5-1-1 record over his past seven fights including recent wins over Kyung-ho Kang and Ray Rodriguez. Yayha is best known for his grappling skills, wrapping up 21 career wins by submission.
As of now, no main event has been booked, but the UFC has been feverishly putting together a number of cards recently, so it’s possible a headliner for July 9 could come at any time.
MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck and Guilherme Cruz contributed to this report.