The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its return to New Zealand with UFC Fight Night 168 (UFC on ESPN+ 26) taking place at Spark Arena in Auckland on February 23. In addition to the previously announced main event battle and several undercard matchups, three bouts have recently joined the fight card.
A new booking (via Twitter) features Poland’s strawweight Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-5), who is looking to rebound from the three-fight losing streak. Her most recent win was in April 2018, when she took a split decision against Felice Herrig at UFC 223. Her opponent Yan Xiaonan (11-1, 1 NC) of China is unbeaten in ten outings (including one no contest). She is coming off the win by unanimous decision against Angela Hill.
Australian light heavyweight Jimmy Crute (10-1) is as well looking to get back on the winning path, after suffering the first defeat in his professional MMA career by submission in the first round against Misha Cirkunov in September. He takes on Oleksiejczuk of Poland (14-3, 1 NC), who was last seen in action also in September, when he was submitted by Ovince Saint Preux in the second round. Prior to that he was unbeaten in 12 bouts, which includes an overturned (to no contest) unanimous decision win, after he tested positive for clomiphene.
NZ Muay Thai and kickboxing champion turned MMA fighter, Brad Riddell (7-1-0) makes his second appearance inside the Octagon, after making a successful promotional debut against Jamie Mullarkey early October at UFC 243. His opponent Magomed Mustafaev (15-2) of Russia won his previous bout via first-round stoppage against Rafael Fiziev and rebounded from the second-round submission defeat suffered against Kevin Lee, which sapped his 12-fight win streak.
In the main event of UFC Auckland American Paul Felder (17-4) squares off against the representative of the country-host Dan Hooker (19-8) at lightweight. The fight card also includes the likes of Australian MMA fighters Tyson Pedro and Jake Matthews. The announced to date list of bouts can be found below.
UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Hooker
Lightweight Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker
Light Heavyweight Tyson Pedro vs. Vinicius Moreira
Welterweight Jake Matthews vs. Emil Meek
Heavyweight Ben Sosoli vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Women’s Strawweight Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Yan Xiaonan
Lightweight Brad Riddell vs. Magomed Mustafaev
Light Heavyweight Jimmy Crute vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk