Saffiedine was originally scheduled to face Ellenberger at UFC 172 on April 26 in Baltimore, but the Belgian striker suffered a setback in training, and he had to drop off the card.
Seeking a quick replacement, the UFC brass turned to Lawler, and the fight was arranged for May 24's UFC 173 card.
Ellenberger vs. Lawler is all kinds of awesome. I hope the quick turnaround for Lawler isn't a problem in his training camp.— Mike Chiappetta MMA (@MikeChiappetta) March 28, 2014
While Lawler stepping back into the UFC Octagon on short notice is not a bad thing by any means—the dude brings it every time he sets foot inside the cage—UFC 173 has been plagued by injuries and last-minute overhauls.
The event was originally scheduled to feature middleweight champion Chris Weidman against Vitor Belfort, but Belfort was replaced by Lyoto Machida after the Nevada State Athletic Commission moved to ban TRT from combat sports.
Then, Weidman elected to have surgery on a nagging injury to his knees, forcing him to push back his encounter with "The Dragon" until July 5's UFC 175 card.
Needing a strong main event to fill the void, the UFC booked a bantamweight showdown between champion Renan Barao and Team Alpha Male's T.J. Dillashaw.
Now, the card gains another solid offering with Lawler vs. Ellenberger. Ranked No. 1 and No. 5 in the division, respectively, Lawler and Ellenberger represent the 170-pound's elite ranks, and the winner will take a solid stride toward title contention.
Ellenberger-Lawler seems like the type of fight that should be held at a Midwest fairground that seats 100K. Tractor pull between rounds.— Dann Stupp (@MMAjunkieDann) March 28, 2014
Lawler's latest bid at the title ended in defeat, as he dropped a unanimous decision to Johny Hendricks at UFC 171 on March 15. Still, the fight was ultra competitive, and Lawler significantly boosted his stock with a solid, gutsy showing in the night's main event.
Ellenberger, on the other hand, has not fought since July 2013 at UFC on Fox 8, where he lost a unanimous decision to Rory MacDonald in a relatively lackluster affair.
Ellenberger suffered at the more technical hands of his foe in that fight, and he was never able to work his game plan and impose his will inside the cage.
Now, "The Juggernaut" looks to get back on track and work his way into title talks once more as he faces the hard-hitting, relentless Lawler at UFC 173.
With this addition, the UFC 173 fight card now includes:
|Renan Barao (c)||T.J. Dillashaw||Bantamweight (title fight)|
|Junior dos Santos||Stipe Miocic||Heavyweight|
|Robbie Lawler||Jake Ellenberger||Welterweight|
|Takeya Mizugaki||Francisco Rivera||Bantamweight|
|Tony Ferguson||Katsunori Kikuno||Lightweight|
|James Krause||Jamie Varner||Lightweight|
|Chris Holdsworth||Kyung Ho Kang||Bantamweight|
|Mitch Clarke||Al Iaquinta||Lightweight|
|Michael Chiesa||Francisco Trinaldo||Lightweight|
|Anthony Njokuani||Vinc Pichel||Lightweight|
|Yves Edwards||Piotr Hallmann||Lightweight|
|Doo Ho Choi||Sam Sicilia||Featherweight|
|Jingliang Li||Danny Mitchell||Welterweight|
Despite many setbacks and last-second arrangements, the card filled out nicely, and fight fans look to be in for another night of exciting, action-packed bouts.