There will be no kid gloves for 20-year-old Francisco Prado when he steps into the cage for his UFC debut.
For weeks, the promotion sought an opponent to replace Nasrat Haqparast and fight Jamie Mullarkey at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. The UFC largely came up short until Prado (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) accepted the bout Thursday.
The event takes place Feb. 11 at RAC Arena. The main card streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view after prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.
Two people with knowledge of the matchup recently confirmed the booking to MMA Junkie but asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement. ESPN Knockout commentator Gaston Reyno first reported the bout.
Prado is one of the most highly touted prospects in all of Latin American MMA despite his youth. He has a 100 percent finishing rate in 11 professional bouts. In 2022, he went 4-0 with finishes over opponents with records of 8-2, 20-5, 6-0, and 13-3 at the time of the bouts.
“I know when I get my opportunity, fans are going to like it and they are going to want to keep calling me,” Prado told MMA Junkie in November. “… Age is just a number. I think that most people who sign to the UFC start martial arts when they are 18-22. I started martial arts when I was 6 years old so I have just as much (if not more) experience than the rest who make it. …
“If you like to watch history being made, I invite you to pay attention to my career because I am going to be the youngest UFC champion ever. And I think by that point, no one will think I am ‘too young.'”
Meanwhile, Mullarkey will fight on home turf for the first time since his promotional debut in October 2019. A winner of three of his most recent four, Mullarkey comes off a July split decision win over Michael Johnson.
With the addition, the UFC 284 lineup includes:
Champion Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski – for lightweight title
Josh Emmett vs. Yair Rodriguez – for interim featherweight title
Tyson Pedro vs. Mingyang Zhang
Kai Kara-France vs. Alex Perez
Jack Jenkins vs. Don Shainis
Parker Porter vs. Justin Tafa
Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Josh Culibao
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield
Kleydson Rodrigues vs. Shannon Ross
Joel Alvarez vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Elise Reed
Blake Bilder vs. Shane Young
Randy Brown vs. Jack Della Maddalena
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Francisco Prado