It’s a little later than he initially asked for, but Ovince Saint Preux will get his wish which initially was a wish made by Ilir Latifi.Saint Preux (22-10 MMA, 10-5 UFC) and Latifi (13-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) are set to clash in a light heavyweight bout when the UFC returns to North Carolina in January for UFC on FOX 27. Promotion officials announced the new booking today following an initial report from the Charlotte Observer. UFC on FOX 27 takes place Jan. 27 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte. The main card will air on FOX after prelims expected for either FOX or FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. No headliner has been announced for the event yet, which will be the UFC’s first show in North Carolina in nearly eight years.Following a knockout win over Corey Anderson at UFC 217 earlier this month, Saint Preux called out Latifi for a fight. Backstage, he reminded reporters he was merely echoing a callout made by Latifi a while back that has gone unfulfilled.“I didn’t pick him, he picked me,” Saint Preux said after his short-notice KO win. “He called me out a while back and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ When this situation came up, I jumped on it. And I’m jumping right back on it. Dec. 30, we can make it happen.” But while Saint Preux’s request for UFC 219 at the end of the year didn’t work, he’ll only have to wait a month longer. The resurgent Saint Preux won for the third straight time and won his second straight fight-night bonus with the head-kick KO of Anderson. Prior to that, he had back-to-back Von Flue choke finishes of Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Yushin Okami to get back on track after a rough patch that saw him drop three straight and four of five fights. His three straight losses started with a unanimous decision setback to Jon Jones for the interim light heavyweight title at UFC 197. After that, he was knocked out by Jimi Manuwa and UFC 204 and upset by Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night 104 in February. But his bounce back has been nothing but highlight reels.
Latifi got back on track in September with a unanimous decision win over Tyson Pedro at UFC 215 in Edmonton. That bout was his first fight in more than a year. He had been expected to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira more than a month prior to that in an attempt to get back in the win column after a knockout loss to Ryan Bader in September 2016, but Nogueira pulled out of the fight. Prior to his loss to Bader, who now is Bellator’s light heavyweight champion, Latifi had a three-fight winning streak that included knockouts of Hans Stringer and Sean O’Connell and a decision over Gian Villante at UFC 196.For more on UFC on FOX 27, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.