Backup plan: Paiva, Smith now set to meet for vacant world title tomorrow night

The bantamweight world title bout set for the end of 2021 is about to go down a lot sooner than expected.

With weight issues forcing the cancellation of one of the two scheduled bantamweight title eliminators at CES MMA 62, contenders Dinis Paiva (13-8, 7 KOs) and Joshua Smith (9-6, 5 KOs) will instead compete for the vacant world title tonight at the Caribe Royale Orlando live on UFC FIGHT PASS®.

Paiva and Smith were originally supposed to face another in a three-round eliminator as half of tonight’s double main event with the two winners fighting one another later in the year, but with the Andrew Whitney-Diego Silva eliminator scrapped at Thursday’s weigh-in, Paiva and Smith will now step to the plate in a five-round bout with the title on the line, a major turn of events in the 11th hour.

Tonight’s preliminary card begins at 7:30 pm ET with the main card starting at 8. To sign up for UFC FIGHT PASS, visit ufcfightpass.com, or download the UFC app.

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For Paiva, the East Providence, RI, native and 21-time CES MMA veteran, this will be his second shot at the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title. He lost to current UFC contender Andre Ewell for the then-vacant title at CES 50 in 2018. Smith, a Pensacola native and winner of three of his last four bouts, fights in a scheduled five-round bout for the first time in his career.

With the bantamweight title comes the possibility of a fast track to the UFC; all three of the promotion’s title-holders – Ewell, Andre Soukhamthath, and Tony Gravely – have gone on to compete for the UFC.

Listed below are weights for all participants at CES 62. Six Florida fighters are scheduled to compete on the card, which now features seven bouts.

DINIS PAIVA
East Providence, RI
13-8, 7 KOs
136

JOSHUA SMITH
Pensacola, FL
9-6, 5 KOs
135

GARY BALLETTO III
Cranston, RI
5-2, 2 KOs
171

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DAHLEN WILSON
Pensacola, FL
4-3, 2 KOs
169

HUGH MCKENNA
Long Island, NY
3-4
180

ADRIANO CAPITULINO
Orlando, FL
7-4
179

JOE PENAFIL
Orlando, FL
5-2
135

DA’MON BLACKSHEAR
Fayetteville, NC
8-4, 1 KO
134

CARLOS ESPINOSA
Tampa, FL
5-4, 3 KOs
137

LEO CARVALHO
Coconut Creek, FL
3-4
134

YURI PANFEROV
New Haven, CT
Pro debut
204

GREGORY SMITH
Greenville, NC
0-1
202

ANTHONY DELORENZO
Belleville, NC
Pro debut
138

CHRISTIAN TYLER-FOSTER
Concord, NC
Pro debut
140


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