With Brady Hiestand out due to injury, Nakamura (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)) now faces “The Ultimate Fighter 31” cast member and UFC newcomer Carlos Vera (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at the Feb. 17 event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Two people with knowledge of the matchup recently informed MMA Junkie of the booking but asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.
Nakamura, 28, is the son of early combat sports orchestrator Kozo Nakamura. The COVID-19 pandemic limited his wrestling opportunities, so Nakamura turned to mixed martial arts and debuted in 2021. He won the Road to UFC tournament in 2022 with three knockouts in as many tournament outings. In August, he defeated Fernie Garcia by unanimous decision.
Vera, 36, was briefly rostered by the UFC in late 2022 when he raised his hand for a short notice opportunity Dec. 9 vs. Daniel Marcos. When Marcos was forced off the card due to travel issues, Vera was removed as well.
Prior to his UFC signing, Vera competed on “TUF 31” as part of Team McGregor. Vera was eliminated in the opening round when he lost a unanimous decision to eventual bantamweight season winner Brad Katona. The loss was an exhibition bout. Vera enters his UFC debut on a four-fight winning streak in professional competition.
With the addition, the UFC 298 lineup includes:
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria
Henry Cejudo vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Paulo Costa vs. Robert Whittaker
Ian Garry vs. Geoff Neal
Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Lemos
Ikram Aliskerov vs. Anthony Hernandez
Andrea Lee vs. Miranda Maverick
Marcos Rogerio vs. Justin Tafa
Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera
Zhang Mingyang vs. Brendson Ribeiro
Oban Elliott vs. Val Woodburn
Danny Barlow vs. Yusaku Kinoshita
AJ Dobson vs. Tresean Gore
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.