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Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises promoted to UFC Vegas 31 main event

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The original headliner was Yair Rodriguez vs. Max Holloway.

Islam Makhachev faces Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31
Islam Makhachev reacts after his submission victory over Drew Dober in their lightweight fight at UFC 259.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

With Max Holloway recently withdrawing from his UFC Vegas 31 main event vs. Yair Rodriguez, the UFC has opted to bump up one of the undercard bouts to headliner status.

MMA Junkie’s John Morgan reported on Wednesday that #9 ranked lightweight contender Islam Makhachev will take on former LFA lightweight champion Thiago Moises in a five-rounder instead of a three-rounder. It’s the first main event spot for either fighter in their respective UFC careers, although Makhachev had previously had a main event vs. Rafael dos Anjos nixed due to injury.

Makhachev (19-1) is a teammate of former (and now retired) UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. Islam has won seven straight and is coming off a dominant submission victory over Drew Dober at UFC 259. Much like Khabib, Makhachev has shown himself to be absolutely fearsome and relentless on the ground, but he has had a hard time getting a marquee matchup. With all due respect to Moises, this doesn’t qualify as one.

Moises (15-4) is on a three-fight winning streak and is #14 in the latest UFC rankings. His victories have come against Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and most recently Alexander Hernandez. Moises’ only UFC losses have come against Beneil Dariush and Damir Ismagulov.

The co-main event for UFC Vegas 31 is the return of former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, back from retirement and scheduled to face Marion Reneau.