After falling short on Season 31 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Timur Valiev has his first fight booked.
Valiev (18-3-1) meets fellow UFC alum Raulian Paiva (21-5) in a bantamweight bout that co-headlines UAE Warriors 45 on Oct. 20 in Abu Dhabi, promotion officials confirmed to MMA Junkie on Friday. The event will take place one day before UFC 294 as a part of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week. It will stream on UFC Fight Pass.
Valiev was let go by the UFC in June 2022 after a unanimous decision loss to Jack Shore. He got an opportunity to rejoin the UFC roster when was called up for “TUF 31,” but was eliminated by eventual winner Brad Katona in the semifinals. He lost that bout by split decision.
Paiva also will compete for the first time since he parted ways with the UFC. The 27-year-old Brazilian is coming off back-to-back losses to current bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley and Sergey Morozov. He exited the UFC with a record of 3-4 – including a Fight of the Night win over Kyler Phillips.