UFC MMA
Former UFCchampion, No.-8 ranked Dominick Cruz, right, of San Diego. Photo credit: Screen shot, @UFC via YouTube

UFC returns to San Diego for the first time since 2015 with a bout featuring top bantamweights – No. 5 Marlon Vera and former champion, No. 8 Dominick Cruz, a local fighter.

UFC Fight Night takes place Saturday at Pechanga Arena and will air on ESPN, with simulcasts in English and Spanish on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes. The main card begins at 4 p.m. following the preliminary fights at 1 p.m.

Tickets, starting at $70, remain available.

Rising star Vera (19-7-1), from Ecuador, will be fighting in his second consecutive UFC main event. Vera owns the record for most finishes in UFC bantamweight history, including those in his victories over former champion Frankie Edgar, Sean O’Malley and Brad Pickett. By taking out Cruz, he could enter into the UFC title picture for the first time.

Former UFC and WEC bantamweight champion Cruz (24-3), who trains in Santee, Cruz has logged wins over fellow champions TJ Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson. If he halts Vera’s momentum, he could break back into the Top 5 rankings.

Other bouts – one features a Tijuana fighter – on Saturday’s card include:

  • Top-ranked UFC women’s strawweights face off as No. 5 Alexa Grasso (14-3), of Guadalajara, meets No. 7 Viviane Araujo (11-3), of Brazil.
  • A flyweight bout sees Malcolm Gordon (14-5), fro of Canada, take on Allan Nascimento (19-6), also of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • No. 7 ranked UFC women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd (9-3), from the Sacramento area, looks to defend her spot in the rankings against No. 8 Sara McMann (13-6) of South Carolina.
  • Devin Clark (13-6), from South Dakota, tries to be the first to defeat Azamat Murzakanov (11-0) from New Jersey by way of Russia, in a light heavyweight bout.
  • Bruno Silva (22-7), another Brazilian, faces veteran Gerald Meerschaert (34-15) of Milwaukee in a middleweight bout.
  • Heavyweight action sees Martin Buday (10-1) of Slovakia collide with Lukasz Brzeski (8-1-1, 1 NC) of Poland.
  • Yazmin Jauregui (8-0), from Tijuana, makes her UFC debut against Istela Nunes (6-3, 1 NC), of Brazil.



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Ellen Bullock