Multiple people with knowledge of the matchup confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Monday. The matchup was first reported by ESPN.
Lawler and Ponzinibbio were previously scheduled to face each other at UFC 245 in 2019, but a staph infection forced Ponzinibbio to withdraw from the bout. Lawler instead faced Neil Magny eight months later, losing by unanimous decision.
A former UFC welterweight champion and pioneer of MMA, Lawler (29-16, 1 NC) has fallen on hard times recently inside the octagon. “Ruthless” has lost five of his seven bouts since dropping the welterweight title in 2016, most recently losing a Fight of the Night winning war against Bryan Barberena at UFC 276. Prior to that, Lawler did score a TKO victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 266.
Ponzinibbio (28-6) has faced similar struggles recently. After putting together a seven-fight win streak that had him on the cusp of title contention in 2018, numerous injuries setback his career substantially, and when he did make his return in 2021, Ponzinibbio lost by first-round KO to Li Jingliang. He managed to rebound with a win over Miguel Baeza, but Ponzinibbio has dropped two in a row since then, and at 35-years old, “Gente Boa” is in dire need of a big win to keep his title aspirations alive.
Mike Heck and Damon Martin contributed to this report.