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Gaetano Pirrello to make Octagon debut against Ricky Simon at UFC Fight Island 8 on Jan 20

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny

Ricky Simon received a new opponent for his scheduled bout on UFC Fight Island. Battling it out at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on January 20, the American bantamweight faces the promotional new-comer Gaetano Pirrello of Belgium.

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Simon was expected to face Brian Kelleher on January 16, who was forced to withdraw due to positive test for coronavirus. It was the second time when their bout fell off, following the original date last September, when Simon’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 and the contest had to be postponed.

Gaetano Pirrello (15-5-1) won two of his previous bouts. The upcoming contest at UFC Fight Island 8 will be a test for protégé of former Muay Thai and kickboxing champion Osman Yigin, given his last fight goes back to October 2019, when he dominated Enzo Maria Iezzi in the first round. A year before that “El Tigre” defeated Percy Herrera by TKO (doctor stoppage) also in Round 1.

Alongside competing in MMA cage, Pirrello has had a successful run inside the ring as a kickboxer. In November 2019 he earned WKN European super featherweight Muay Thai title by unanimous decision against Ahmed Alikada. Prior to that he twice appeared in kickboxing series Simply the Best, defeating Lubomir Rusnak and Rehda Chtibi.

Making his Octagon debut Gaetano Pirrello will become the second Belgian fighter in the UFC. The first was Tarec Saffiedine, who won two out of six fights in total, with the most recent outing going back to June 2017.

Ricky Simon (16-3) was in action last May, when he took the win against Ray Borg by split decision. Prior to that he dropped a unanimous decision against Rob Font and was stopped by Urijah Faber in the first round.

The upcoming UFC Fight Island 8 card is headlined by Michael Chiesa up against Neil Magny at welterweight. MMA fans can watch the event live stream on ESPN+.

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