Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Wednesday. Marcel Dorff initially posted the news on Twitter.
Garbrandt returns after he was initially scheduled to fight at UFC 292 in August but an injured derailed him from competing. Now he fights at UFC 296 while looking to build on his most recent win over Trevin Jones at 135 pounds following a brief stop at bantamweight.
As for Kelleher, the 37-year-old veteran will attempt to vanquish Garbrandt to get back on track after suffering back-to-back losses in his most recent performances. Kelleher fell to Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC 272 and then to Mario Bautista in June 2022.
Kellher was originally expected to return at UFC Vegas 72 but he was pulled from the card over concerns about a neck injury that could have potentially ended his career. Thankfully, Kelleher is now healthy and ready to compete again as he prepares to clash with Garbrandt in December.
Garbrandt vs. Kelleher joins a growing card at UFC 296, which will be headlined by a pair of title fights as Leon Edwards faces Colby Covington in the welterweight main event while Alexandre Pantoja takes on Brandon Royval in the flyweight co-main event.