Over the weekend the UFC announced that they will return to Belfast, Northern Ireland with UFC Fight Night 99 on November 19th. This will be the first time the promotion was there since UFC 72 in 2007. On that night two Irish MMA representatives, Colin Robinson and Steven Lynch, became the first fighters from the island to fight for the UFC.
So who could the UFC sign to fight on this card?
Norman Parke (21-5-1)
The 29-year-old is Northern Ireland's highest ranked and most successful MMA fighter ever. He was somewhat surprisingly released from his UFC contract back in February earlier this year. During his time with the company he won TUF: The Smashes and posted a record of 5-3-1, with a couple of his loses being controversial.
Parke has two fights lined-up before November 19th and a pair of wins, or perhaps just one, might force the UFC to send an invitation requesting that the man from Bushmills appears on the card.
Peter Queally (8-2)
'The Showstopper' could've already made one appearance in the UFC had a recent visa issue not popped up that stopped him from being a last minute replacement at UFC 202 this past weekend.
He fights next at BAMMA 26 in a couple of weeks and a victory there against Joe McColgan, which won't be an easy task, would all but guarantee his inclusion on the Belfast card given the fact the UFC had already approved him.
Alan Philpott (15-8)
The current BAMMA bantamweight champion defends his title at BAMMA 26 on September 10th. A win here would movie him to 8-3 since 2013 and into prime candidacy for a slot on the Belfast card.
Philpott is a local boy and would bring with him a big and loud crowd, much like he did when he beat Steven McCombe in the very same venue back in 2014. 'The Apprentice' has a tough challenge at BAMMA in Aaron Blackwell though but is more than capable of scoring an impressive win.
Karl Moore (6-1)
Light heavyweights are few and far between in the UFC. The promotion will always be on the lookout for decent prospects at 205lbs and the name Karl Moore might come to their attention. The FAI fighter might seem like a win-win situation for the promotion. He is a Belfast native and should he win then they have a new prospect but should he lose then there wasn't much invested in him.
He is currently returning from injury and hasn't fought since December last year where he beat French veteran Prince Aounallah via first round submission. A November return should be easily doable for Moore given his recent social media updates on his recovery.
Andy Young (9-7)
On first inspection Young doesn't have the record for the UFC but if you take a closer look you will see that he is on an 8-3 run and has won UK titles in each of his last three fights beating some very tough opposition.
He is currently preparing to win his fourth title in as many fights when he challenges Rany Saadeh for his BAMMA flyweight title in Dublin. This is Young's biggest fight to date and how fitting would it be should it be the one that catapults him into the UFC, in a division where they lack the talent.
There are three Irish fighters competing at BAMMA who I consider to have long shots of making the Belfast card and they are Rhys McKee (3-0), Ryan Curtis (3-0) and Brian Moore (9-4).
McKee has been on a tear since turning pro less than a year ago winning all three fights via impressive stoppages. He faces a tough guy in Tommy McCafferty who is looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats. A win here for McKee won't hurt in his quest to be on the Belfast card but it is a long shot.
Curtis is an understudy to Owen Roddy, Conor McGregor's striking coach, and has looked very good thus far in his pro career. Having that connection already to the UFC through Roddy and McGregor wouldn't hurt him in a campaign to get to the UFC.
The same also goes for Brian Moore who is McGregor's teammate at SBG. A pro since 2011, Moore returned from an 18-month break from the sport and has won his past two fights, both stoppages.