There are several fighters making their Ultimate Fighting Championship debut February 26th at the UFC 127 event in Sydney, Australia, including one of the main card competitors. See below for an introduction for each potential future superstar as these fighters all compete in the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization for the first time.
Brian Ebersole (46-14-1) has a lot of experience and will need it as he faces UFC veteran and fellow welterweight Chris Lytle on the main card. Most of Ebersole’s early career was for now-defunct Midwestern US promotions like Total Combat Challenge, Finke’s Full Combat Challenge, and Ultimate Wrestling.
Ebersole is currently riding a seven-fight win streak. He started off last year fighting for South Africa’s Fight Force MMA, where he submitted Martin van Staden. His two most recent fights have actually been in Australia. First he fought against former UFC champion Carlos Newton for Impact Fighting Championships; Ebersole had his hand raised after a unanimous decision. Then last month he fought at the debut show of Lets Get It On Promotions and knocked out Hamish Robertson in the first round. Ebersole now looks to win another fight in Australia, but this time for the UFC.
Riki Fukuda (17-4) is the latest of several skilled Japanese fighters to make their octagon debut this year; he is the Middleweight Champion in Japan’s Deep promotion. Early in his career he fought for Japanese organizations like Pancrase and Greatest Common Multiple before making his way to Deep.
He is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak. Last year the Deep champion defeated Hiromitsu Kanehara by unanimous decision in a non-title fight, and then made his first official defense of the middleweight belt by finishing Ryuta Sakurai with knee strikes. He now hopes to extend his winning record in the UFC by defeating Nick Ring.
Nick Ring (10-0) has been in the octagon before, but only on the Ultimate Fighter. After building an undefeated record, including one fight for Bellator, he won a place on the 11th season of the show last year and was the first pick of Tito Ortiz to compete against Team Liddell.
Ring defeated Court McGee by majority decision to advance in the competition. Ring injured his knee, however, and withdrew from the tournament to have surgery to repair the damage. McGee had been reinstated in the tournament due to the close decision and would go on to win the show. Ring will make his own official UFC debut against Riki Fukuda on February 26th.
Maciej Jewtuszko (8-0) is an undefeated lightweight fighter from Poland and has an even number of knockout and submission wins. He will be facing Curt Warburton, who has had one previous fight in the UFC. Jewtuszko developed his undefeated record for promotions in his native Poland like Extreme Challenge and Beast of the East, as well as neighboring Germany’s Fight Club Berlin.
Last year he fought for Polish organization Iron Fist and knocked out Erikas Petraitis in the first round. A first round victory over Edvardas Norkeliunas by heel-hook for Beast of the East then got Jewtuszko an invitation to make his World Extreme Cagefighting debut. At WEC 50 he won knockout of the night when he finished Anthony Njokuani in the first round. He now gets to fight in octagon after the UFC-WEC merger.
Tom Blackledge (10-6) is a native of England and will be facing Anthony Perosh in a heavyweight match. Perosh is making his second attempt at a successful career in the UFC.
Blackledge has fought for various UK promotions such as Ultimate Combat and Cage Rage. His last two fights have been for M-1 Global and were both in 2009. At a show in Japan he submitted Tatsuya Mizuno in the first round and then at an event in the Netherlands he knocked out Enoc Torres with a head kick in just nine seconds. He then did not compete in 2010 but starts off this year with his first UFC fight.
Who are you most excited to see making their UFC debut?
Tiequan Zhang (10-1) is a product of the emerging MMA scene in China. Zhang has long fought as a lightweight but will be moving down to featherweight for his UFC debut. Zhang is one of the fighters making the move to the UFC after the WEC was folded into the organization. His opponent Jason Reinhardt had one fight for the UFC back in 2007 but lost and has just now made it back.
Zhang built up nine wins in a row in Asian promotions like China’s Art of War and Universal Reality Combat Championship in the Philippines before being offered a chance to fight for the WEC. He made his debut at WEC 51 and submitted Pablo Garza in the first round. In his last fight at WEC 53 he suffered the first loss of his career when he dropped a unanimous decision to Danny Downes. He has now decided to drop down a weight class as he moves to the UFC.