Justin Gaethje’s return is likely to happen in the first quarter of 2023.
UFC President Dana White confirmed on Saturday that a lightweight matchup between Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev is set for UFC 286, which takes place March 18 at the O2 Arena in London. Gaethje also confirmed the booking on Twitter.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that verbal agreements were in place for the contest before White announced the bout was official.
Gaethje recently told MMA Fighting in an interview that he planned to return in March or April, and wanted to compete in London in hopes of sharing the card with Kamaru Usman, who is expected to face welterweight champ Leon Edwards in the main event. “The Highlight” will look to bounce back from a submission loss against Charles Oliveira in the lightweight championship main event at UFC 274 in May.
Fiziev has won six straight inside the octagon, including eye-opening finishes in his two past outings against Rafael dos Anjos and Brad Riddell. The No. 6 fighter in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings also has victories against Bobby Green and Renato Moicano during this impressive win streak.