Just five days before his scheduled bout at UFC Fight Night 49, top featherweight prospect Mirsad Bektic has sustained an injury and has been forced to withdraw from his meeting with Max Holloway.
Stepping in to face Holloway will be Clay Collard, a fairly unsung fighter who will make his UFC debut Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
MMA Junkie first reported the news Monday afternoon.
The fight would have been a clash of two promising, young fighters. Bektic (8-0) won his UFC debut in April with a majority decision over Chas Skelly. Although the 23-year-old has never lost, most of his wins have come over fairly unimpressive competition. His date with Holloway would have easily been the biggest fight of his professional career.
The MMA Junkie report did not specify the nature of Bektic's injury:
The addition of Collard, who is based in Utah, appears to make geographic sense for the UFC and this Tulsa card. Collard (13-4) is a fairly experienced fighter with eight knockout wins to his name. Most of his experience has come in the Utah promotion Showdown Fights. His highest-profile opponent to date was Justin Buchholz, the UFC veteran and Team Alpha Male fighter with whom Collard has split two contests.
In February 2013, Collard failed a drug test following a win over Jordan Clements. The outcome of the bout was subsequently changed to a no-contest. If not for that failed drug test, Collard would currently be riding a five-fight winning streak.
Holloway (9-3) is still one of the UFC's youngest fighters at 22 years of age. He has been competing in the Octagon for half of his adult life, going 5-3 in the UFC since his debut in 2012.
Though he is known mainly as a kickboxer, Holloway has been showing a more well-rounded game in winning each of his last two contests. Most recently, he defeated Team Alpha Male prospect Andre Fili by third-round chokeout at UFC 172. It will be interesting to see what he unveils this Saturday.
Holloway will likely be considered a substantial favorite over Collard.