The UFC Fight Night 129 card slated for May 19 was recently ravaged, a revamped main event could save the promotion’s debut event in Santiago, Chile.
Fast-rising welterweight Kamaru Usman was originally slated to meet Argentinian Santiago Ponzinibbio in the headliner in Chile, but that fight fell apart over the weekend when Ponzinibbio had to withdraw because of a hand injury.
That was followed by the UFC Fight Night 129 co-main event between Volkan Oezdemir and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua being removed from the card and re-booked as the UFC Hamburg headliner in July. An ongoing legal issue made Oezdemir unable to compete at the May date.
Though that almost seemed to signal a death nell for UFC Fight Night 129, UFC officials have moved swiftly to find a new opponent for Usman. Following an initial report by MMAFighting, MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin confirmed with sources close to the situation that a verbal agreement is in place for Usman to meet Demian Maia in the revamped main event in Chile.
Usman is currently 12-1 overall including winning all seven of his UFC bouts since emerging from the cast of Season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter. Currently sitting at No. 7 in the UFC welterweight rankings, Maia represents a tremendous opportunity for Usman, as Maia sits at No. 5 in the promotion’s official ranks.
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Maia (25-8) is coming off of back-to-back losses to Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington, but his decade-plus tenure as one of the top fighters in the Octagon will make him a very difficult task for Usman to use as a ladder to the top. Beating back a rising talent such as Usman, would serve Maia well on his quest to get back into the thick of title talk.