Lobov and Ward fly the Irish flag tonight at UFC Belfast

Conor McGregor’s expected to be in attendance as his team-mates aim to make it another good night for SBG.

Artem Lobov Artem Lobov at yesterday’s weigh-ins. Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO / Matt Mackey/INPHO

AN ALREADY UNREMARKABLE card was hit with a significant setback yesterday when Neil Seery’s bout fell through, but UFC Fight Night 99 will go ahead nevertheless this evening with plenty of interest for Irish fans.

Seery was scheduled to take on Ian McCall at Belfast’s SSE Arena in what was set to be his final fight before retiring. But with McCall being forced to withdraw yesterday due to illness, Seery has decided to postpone his farewell outing.

As a result, the responsibility for representing Irish MMA for the UFC’s return to these shores rests with Straight Blast Gym pair Artem Lobov and Charlie Ward, both of whom may have UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor in their corner tonight, it’s understood.

At the third time of asking, Lobov secured his first win under the UFC banner in August when he dominated Chris Avila at UFC 202 in Las Vegas. Born in Russia but based in Dublin, Lobov will face colourful Japanese featherweight Teruto Ishihara in the opening bout on the main card.

“It’s always good to get the support,” Lobov told The42 this week. “I’ve been feeling it all the time, great Irish support. They’ve embraced me as one of their own, I’m really thankful, so I look forward to putting on a show for them.”

Teruto Ishihara Teruto Ishihara will be Artem Lobov’s opponent this evening at Belfast’s SSE Arena. Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO / Matt Mackey/INPHO

Ward will be making his debut in the UFC in what will be just his fifth professional bout. He’ll be the underdog in his welterweight clash with Abdul Razak Alhassan, but SBG head coach John Kavanagh believes the 35-year-old Portlaoise native is ready for the step-up.

“Anybody who has trained with Charlie and has seen him fight will know that you’ll never have it easy against him,” Kavanagh said. “At the end of the fight, if there are any naysayers out there thinking that he only got this opportunity because of Conor, I think they’ll see that he deserves this chance.”

Tonight’s main attraction will be an intriguing middleweight rematch between Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall. When the pair clashed in September of last year, Hall scored an upset victory via second-round TKO. Since that fight, however, Hall has lost twice in a row and Mousasi will be searching for his fourth consecutive win.

“He won fair and square,” Mousasi told us this week. “When I say it was a fluke, I believe I’m going to be victorious on Saturday. I am the better fighter. I’m not going to rush it in. I’m going to take my time and that’s going to be the big difference. I’m not going to give him any mistakes to capitalise on.”

There are 13 bouts in total on tonight’s card, with the nine prelims live on UFC Fight Pass from 5.30pm. The four-fight main card will be broadcast on BT Sport 2 from 9pm. We’ll also keep you updated here on The42 with our liveblog throughout the evening.

Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall meet in the main event. Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO Presseye / Matt Mackey/INPHO / Matt Mackey/INPHO

UFC Fight Night 99

Main card (BT Sport 2, 9pm)

Gegard Mousasi vs. Uriah Hall
Ross Pearson vs. Stevie Ray
Timothy Johnson vs. Alexander Volkov
Artem Lobov vs. Teruto Ishihara

Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass, 5.30pm)

Magnus Cedenblad vs. Jack Marshman
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ali Bagautinov
Kevin Lee vs. Magomed Mustafaev
Anna Elmose vs. Amanda Cooper
Justin Ledet vs. Mark Godbeer
Zak Cummings vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Marion Reneau vs. Milana Dudieva
Brett Johns vs. Kwan Ho Kwak
Charlie Ward vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan

Pearson ‘ready to make a push’ towards the top of the UFC’s lightweight division

‘I see myself winning the belt’ – Mousasi chasing revenge in Belfast headliner

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