UFC 230 officially has some Long Island flavor.
Huntington’s Matt Frevola is slated to face Lando Vannata in a lightweight bout in November at Madison Square Garden, according to the UFC.
Frevola (6-1, 0-1 UFC) will step into the octagon for the second time when he meets Vannata on Nov. 3. The “Steamrolla” lost his UFC debut in January by first-round knockout against Marco Polo Reyes. He earned that fight with a win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series last year.
Vannatta (9-3-1, 1-3-1 UFC) has just one UFC victory, but he’s become a must-watch for fans with three Fight of the Night bonuses to his name. The lone promotional victory for "Groovy" came back in December 2016 when he knocked out John Makdessi with a wheel kick in the first round.
Frevola won’t be the only local connection at the UFC's third trip to Madison Square Garden. Selden's Brian Kelleher also has been booked for the event, where he'll face newcomer Domingo Pilarte in a bantmweight fight. David Branch, a Bronx native living in Brooklyn, has been confirmed to fight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 230. Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who grew up in Baldwin, also is close to booking a fight for the MSG card, sources told Newsday in July. Weidman is expected to rematch Luke Rockhold, who took Weidman’s title at UFC 194 in December 2015 by handing him his first career loss.
While UFC 230 does not yet have a main event, there will be some star power at MSG. Nate Diaz, who fought a pair of high-profile bouts with Conor McGregor in 2016, will make his return to the cage against Dustin Poirier that night. Former middleweight title contender Yoel Romero also will be in the building to face Paulo Costa.
This is the UFC’s third visit to Madison Square Garden since MMA was legalized in New York in 2016. The two previous events — UFC 205 in 2016 and UFC 217 in 2017 — were among the promotions biggest of the year. Each featured three title fights and some of the biggest names in the sport.
The first card at MSG, featuring McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez in the main event, set a promotional and venue record for live gate (over $17 million) and drew 20,247 fans. The second event, with Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping atop the marquee, brought in 18,201 fans and a live gate of $6,105,306.