A couple of The Ultimate Fighter alums have been added to the UFC 173 card, in addition to a match worth of headlining its own pay-per-view.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos takes on Stipe Miocic in the night’s co-main event.
Dos Santos (16-3) is coming off consecutive losses to current heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez with a victory over Mark Hunt sandwiched in between. The Brazilian needs to maintain his No. 1 contender ranking while Velasquez recovers from injury, although a fourth match between the two in the immediate future is unlikely.
Aside from a TKO loss to Stefan Stuve in Sept. 2012, the up-and-coming Miocic (11-1) has steamrolled through the division. Back-to-back victories over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga catapulted the former NCAA Division One wrestler into the UFC’s biggest event of the summer. Prior to his only loss, Miocic won his first nine fights, three of which came in the UFC.
MMA stalwart Yves Edwards may be fighting for his job when he faces lightweight Pitor Hallmann. Edwards (42-20-1) has either lost or received a no contest in his last three bouts; the latter a result of Yancy Medeiros’ positive post-fight drug test. The 17-year veteran’s third stint in the UFC hasn’t been as successful as desired, compiling a 4-5 record.
Hallmann (14-2) snapped a ten-match winning streak with his loss to Al Iaquinta at Fight Night 30. The 26-year-old’s UFC debut last September went much smoother as he received Submission of the Night honors for his victory against Francisco Trinaldo.
The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner Tony Ferguson faces UFC newcomer Katsunori Kikuno in a lightweight battle.
After defeating Ramsey Nijem on the show’s finale, Ferguson (14-3) racked up consecutive victories over Aaron Riley and Yves Edwards before losing to Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 3. A year and a half later, he rebounded with a D’arce choke submission win over Mike Rio at UFC 166. The long layoff is due to a broken arm suffered in the Johnson fight.
Kikuno (22-5-2) carries a six-match winning streak into his second UFC fight. He successfully defeated Quinn Mulhern at UFC Fight Night 34 via unanimous decision in a match that led Mulhern into retirement. UFC 173 marks the MMA veteran’s first fight outside of Asia.
Michael Chiesa, another TUF cast member, meets TUF: Brazil fighter Francisco Trinaldo in match destined for the preliminary card. Chiesa (10-1) rebounded from a loss to Jorge Masvidal last July with a rear-naked choke submission victory over Colton Smith in last November’s Fight Night 31. Similarly, Trinaldo (14-3) bounced back from a loss when he defeated Jesse Ronson last month. The Brazilian has a 4-2 record in the UFC.
UFC Fight Night 40
Ohio native Matt Brown and Brazilian Erick Silva will headline the UFC’s first event in the Buckeye state in five years.
Brown (18-11) is coming off a back injury that sidelined him near the end of 2013 and forced him off the UFC on FOX 9 card last December. Regardless, ‘The Immortal’ carries a six-match winning streak into the bout, most recently knocking out Mike Pyle at Fight Night 26. It will be Brown’s second fight in him home state as he knocked out Pete Sell at UFC 96.
Silva (16-4) hasn’t found as much success in the UFC, alternating wins and losses to produce a 4-3 record. Nicknamed ‘Indio’, Silva convincingly knocked out Takenori Sato in the first round of their Fight Night 36 match last month.
Middleweights Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin have verbally agreed to fight at the Cincinnati event. Philippou (12-4) looks to shake off consecutive losses that followed a five-match winning streak. His last fight ended by TKO when Luke Rockhold laded a hard kick to the body halfway through the first round of the Fight Night 35 main event.
At the same show, Larkin (14-2) lost to Brad Tavares via unanimous decision; his second of three UFC losses. Larkin was one of the fighters signed by the UFC when they purchased Strikeforce in Jan. 2013.
Former PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi will replace Danny Castillo in next month’s match against Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Castillo will remain on the card against an unnamed opponent.
After spending his entire career in Japan, Gomi (34-9) lost his UFC debut to Kenny Florian at Fight Night 21. The ‘Fireball Kid’ hasn’t found much success since, earning to a 3-4 record. Gomi fights for the first time in over a year; his last fight a split decision loss to Diego Sanchez last March.
Vallie-Flagg (14-4-1) is 1-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Elias Silverio last January. It snapped a 12-fight unbeaten streak that dates back to his days with New Mexico-based King of the Cage.
An injury to Tor Troeng nearly left Bubba McDaniel without an opponent less than two weeks before UFC 171. Enter former King of the Cage middleweight champion Sean Strickland.
Strickland (13-0) has won the majority of his fight by knockout, eight coming in the first round. Most recently, he got a TKO victory over Matt Lager at KOTC “Split Decision” last August.
McDaniel (21-7) has split his first two fights in the UFC, losing to Brad Tavares while defeating Gilbert Smith, respectively. A cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 17, McDaniel lost in the show’s quarterfinal round but performed well enough to compete on the show’s finale, a submission victory over Smith.
Former UFC middleweight Yushin Okami makes his World Series of Fighting debut against Svetlozar Savov.
Despite his 6-3 UFC record, Okami (29-8) was released last September in what was deemed a cost-cutting measure. ‘Thunder’ reached his peak when fought Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 134; a match he lost via TKO.
Savov (12-4) also makes his promotional debut after competing with various European organizations. The Bulgarian isn’t one to depend on the judges’ scorecards as only one of his 12 victories has gone to decisions.