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Ilia Topuria moves up to lightweight, fights Jai Herbert at UFC London

Topuria moves up a weight class after weight cutting issues forced him to withdraw from his fight against Movsar Evloev last month. 

Ilia Topuria after UFC 264.
Ilia Topuria after UFC 264.
Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ilia Topuria is debuting in a new weight class for his next outing.

Gonzalo Campos of Eurosport reported on Thursday that Topuria would be moving up from featherweight to lightweight and facing Jai Herbert at UFC London, the upcoming event scheduled for March 19 at the O2 Arena. Herbert was originally expected to meet Mike Davis, but the latter recently withdrew. ‘The Black Country Banger’ has since confirmed the new fight on social media.

Topuria has remained unbeaten in all three of his UFC appearances. The 25-year-old debuted at UFC Fight Island 5, where he earned a unanimous decision win over Youssef Zalal. He followed that showing up with two consecutive first-round knockouts of Damon Jackson and Ryan Hall at UFC Vegas 16 and UFC 264, respectively.

Topuria was then paired up with a fellow undefeated prospect in Movsar Evloev, who was forced to withdraw from their fight at UFC 270 because of a positive COVID-19 test. Though the Georgian accepted a short-notice replacement in Charles Jourdain, Topuria was also eventually removed after falling ill and being hospitalized over his weight cut.

After an 0-2 start to his UFC career, Herbert rebounded with a first-round knockout of Khama Worthy at UFC Vegas 41 this past October. The former Cage Warriors lightweight champion improved to 11-3 overall as a professional.

UFC London is headlined by a heavyweight fight between Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall. Here is what the rest of the card currently looks like:

  • Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall
  • Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker
  • Paddy Pimblett vs. Kazula Vargas
  • Jake Hadley vs. Allan Nascimento
  • Luana Carolina vs. Molly McCann
  • Cody Durden vs. Muhammad Mokaev
  • Makwan Amirkhani vs. Mike Grundy
  • Jack Shore vs. Timur Valiev
  • Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Sergei Pavlovich
  • Gunnar Nelson vs. Claudio Silva
  • Cory McKenna vs. Elise Reed
  • Paul Craig vs. Nikita Krylov
  • Liudvik Sholinian vs. Nathaniel Wood
  • Jai Herbert vs. Ilia Topuria