Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Junior dos Santos, who faces Ben Rothwell on Sunday.
# afternoon delight
There's a rare afternoon treat in store for UFC fans on Sunday
Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos features in the main event in Zagreb.

THERE ARE A couple of unusual aspects to this weekend’s UFC event.

Firstly, it’s on a Sunday. Second of all, the action starts in the afternoon instead of the early hours of the morning.

That’s because the organisation is back in Europe, meaning UFC Fight Night 86 will be happening at a reasonable hour for fans in this part of the world. The first of 13 fights will begin at 3pm Irish time.

The event, which takes place in Zagreb, is by no means a star-studded affair but there’s still plenty worth checking out, as the UFC aims to expand its popularity on the continent by hosting its first show in Croatia.

On the earlier portion of the bill [which airs on UFC Fight Pass], watch out for debuting Danish/Bosnian lightweight Damir Hadzovic, who made a huge impact on the regional circuit by defeating the likes of John Maguire, Martin Delaney and Ivan Musardo to earn a UFC contract.

However, he’s not exactly being eased in gently by the organisation. It’s likely to be a baptism of fire for Hadozvic when he takes on Russia’s Mairbek Taisumov, who already has a 4-1 UFC stint to his name.

English bantamweight Ian Entswistle, who was once on the books at Rochdale AFC, is also worth keeping an eye on. He’ll aim to build on his ‘Performance of the Night’ win over Anthony Birchak when he takes on Alejandro Perez.

Irish fans may also be interested to watch the final bout on the prelims, which is a welterweight contest between Zak Cummings and Nicolas Dalby, who earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honours when he fought to a draw with Darren Till in Dublin last October.

However, all eyes will be on the main event [BT Sport], which sees former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos take on Ben Rothwell, who has established himself as an unlikely contender in the division following four consecutive wins — including impressive stoppages of Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione and Josh Barnett.

UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship / YouTube

UFC Fight Night 86

Main card (Sunday, 7pm Irish time)

Ben Rothwell vs. Junior dos Santos
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Derrick Lewis
Francis Ngannou vs. Curtis Blaydes
Timothy Johnson vs. Marcin Tybura
Igor Pokrajac vs. Jan Błachowicz
Maryna Moroz vs. Cristina Stanciu

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Prelims (Sunday, 3pm Irish time)

Nicolas Dalby vs. Zak Cummings
Ian Entwistle vs. Alejandro Pérez
Mairbek Taisumov vs. Damir Hadzović
Filip Pejić vs. Damian Stasiak
Robert Whiteford vs. Lucas Martins
Jared Cannonier vs. Cyril Asker
Bojan Veličković vs. Alessio Di Chirico

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