UFC officials on Thursday confirmed Mark Hunt will headline the promotion's first trip to Moscow.
Ukranian Aleksei Oleinik was originally expected to face former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum in the UFC Fight Night 136 main event on Sept. 15 at Olympic Stadium, but that all changed when Werdum was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation.
With Werdum out of the picture while his case is being adjudicated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, matchmakers turned to Hunt, who is coming off of a loss to fast-rising contender Curtis Blaydes.
Oleinik (56-11-1) also has a recent loss to Blaydes on his record, but rebounded at UFC 224 in May with a rare Ezekiel choke submission of Junior Albini.
At 41 years of age and with a 5-2 record in the Octagon, Oleinik will be looking for a win over the 43-year-old Hunt to help move him closer to title contention.
“If I do not fall under Hunt’s cannon, then it will be difficult for him to extricate himself from my arms,” Oleinik predicted of his upcoming bout.
“I’m so happy to be a part of Russian MMA history by headlining the first UFC event in Russia. The fans can expect a legendary event, a legendary name, and legendary quality of fights in Moscow – and they will get it!”
For Hunt (13-12-1, 1NC), he's hoping to fight out his current UFC contract and then fight two or three more bouts in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan before calling it a career. Oleinik represents the first of the two final fights on his current contract.
“I have a lot of respect for Russian athletes. I have fought one of the greatest Russian fighters of all time in Fedor,” commented Hunt. “I think Oleinik will be tough like me, but I will bring my best to this match and he is going to have a long night if he makes it out of the second or third round. My style will win me this fight.”
UFC Fight Night 136 will stream entirely on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.