Featherweight champ Alex Volkanovski and interim champ Yair Rodriguez will meet to determine the reigning champion July 8 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena in the main event of UFC 290, UFC President Dana White announced Wednesday. The co-main event will be a rematch between flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and longtime rival Alexandre Pantoja.
White also announced that former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who will fight Nico Price in the feature preliminary bout, will be retiring after the fight. The UFC previously announced that Lawler would be inducted into the Fighting Suite Hall of Fame for his classic match with Rory MacDonald. But he will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place on July 6, two days before the card.
In addition to the two title fights, the main card will feature a middleweight fight between former champions Robert Whitaker and Dricos du Plessis, with the winner getting the next shot at the belt held by Israel Adesanya. Finishing the card will be a lightweight bout between Jalen Turner and Dan Hooker and a middleweight bout between Bo Nickal and Trisian Gore.
White announced that the preliminary card would air on both ABC and ESPN.
Rodriguez won the interim title on February 12, at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. Volkanovskiy challenged Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title that night and lost a close decision which he felt he won. The UFC put Rodriguez on that card against Josh Emmett and he responded with a great performance. Rodriguez submitted Emmett at 4:19 with a triangle option.
This led to a start with Volkanovski, whose 22-match winning streak ended in a loss to Makhachev, and he went unbeaten at featherweight. His first loss at welterweight came in his fourth pro fight with Corey Nelson. His second loss in February was to Makhachev.
Moreno and Pantoja would meet for the second time, this time with the featherweight belt on the line. Pantoja won a unanimous decision over Moreno on May 19, 2018, and this was Moreno’s second consecutive loss. He was cut by the UFC after the fight and has fought once in the LFA. He won that fight and returned to the UFC a different fighter. He is 6-1-2 since then and will seek revenge for Pantoga’s loss.
Whitaker has already lost twice to Adesanya, but will face a third crack if he defeats Du Plessis. Du Plessis has been on a roll and has won seven in a row, including five in a row in the UFC, to improve to 19-2.
If du Plessis won, he would start an exciting fight with Adesanya, who was upset about it Comments made by du Plessis in March. Du Plessis is from South Africa and was referring on UFC 285 media day that he is a real African. It has been suggested that Adesanya is a New Zealander rather than an African.
After he defeated Alex Pereira at UFC 287 in Miami on April 7 to win the belt, Adesanya said, “If he makes it work, and I pray he continues to win, I will gladly drag his corpse across South Africa.”