Two unranked but promising bantamweights are lined up for a showdown this summer.
Barcelos (16-1) has been phenomenal throughout his UFC tenure, but the combination of bantamweight’s depth and his lack of marquee opponents means the Brazilian is still outside the official top-15. His last bout was a Fight of the Night unanimous decision win over Khalid Taha back in November, improving his UFC record to 5-0. Bouts against Merab Dvalishvili and Raphael Assuncao fell through for different reasons, and even a short notice fight with Marcelo Rojo was nixed when Barcelos tested positive for coronavirus.
Valiev (17-2, 1 NC) came in with plenty of intrigue and familiarity given his long spell with WSOF turned PFL. The Russian’s UFC debut against Trevin Jones started strongly but ended in a disastrous second-round TKO loss. A positive marijuana test turned that loss into a no contest, and his follow-up performance against Martin Day proved a comfortable decision win.