The UFC is trying to keep Brian Kelleher on UFC on ESPN+ 34.

With his original opponent, Ricky Simon, being forced off the card due to a cornerman testing positive for COVID-19, Kelleher (21-11 MMA, 5-4 UFC) is now being targeted to face promotional newcomer Kevin Natividad at featherweight. The fight has been verbally agreed to and contracts are expected to be distributed soon.

UFC on ESPN+ 34 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event streams live on ESPN+.

Multiple people with knowledge of the situation informed MMA Junkie of the targeted booking Sunday, but asked to remain anonymous since the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.

Kelleher, who usually competes at bantamweight, has fought twice since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak – both times, at featherweight. After knocking out Hunter Azure on May 13, Kelleher turned around quickly to fight Cody Stamann on June 6. Kelleher lost to Stamann by unanimous decision.

Natividad (9-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will make his UFC debut riding a five-fight winning streak. He most recently competed for LFA and finished Kyle Estrada with strikes in the second round of their July 17 fight. Natividad, 27, has six finishes in nine pro victories.

With the addition, the UFC on ESPN+ 34 lineup includes:

The latest UFC on ESPN+ 34 lineup now includes:

  • Alistair Overeem vs. Augusto Sakai
  • Alonzo Menifield vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Sijara Eubanks vs. Karol Rosa
  • Zelim Imadaev vs. Michel Pereira
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Natividad
  • Thiago Moises vs. Jalin Turner
  • Viviane Araujo vs. Montana De La Rosa
  • Bartosz Fabinski vs. Andre Muniz
  • Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov
  • Hunter Azure vs. Cole Smith