UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann is going down on March 3 in Louisville, Kentucky and will be the promotion’s third event broadcast on Versus. While Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann are names that should be known to UFC fans, some may not have heard of the other fighters who will be having their first bout for the organization on Thursday.
Three fighters on the main televised card will be making their debut and four others will appear for the first time in the preliminaries. Read on for information on each new UFC competitor.
Chris Weidman (4-0) has an incredible opportunity to advance his career by making just his fifth fight a UFC debut on the televised main card.
All four of Weidman’s previous fights were for New Jersey’s Ring of Combat promotion, and he is currently the Middleweight Champion in that organization. After knocking out Mike Stewart in the first round, he got the title shot against Uriah Hall, who he also then knocked out within five minutes.
Since then Weidman has defended his title one time, beating Valdir Araujo in a unanimous decision after three rounds. Weidman will now hope to keep his streak alive as he moves to the UFC against veteran fighter Alessio Sakara.
Brian Bowles (8-1) is the former World Extreme Cagefighting Bantamweight Champion and is looking to get back to the title now that the WEC has merged with the UFC.
Bowles had his first two fights in Georgia’s Wild Bill’s Fight Nights and picked up another win in regional promotion International Sport Combat Federation. Bowles then made his WEC debut.
He picked up several wins and was given a title shot against Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres at WEC 42. Torres looked unstoppable with 17 wins in a row up until that point, but Bowles picked up a KO of the Night award and victory in the very first round.
Bowles’s own win streak then came to an end with his first defense at WEC 47 last year. Dominick Cruz defeated Bowles when the doctor stopped the fight after two rounds and became new WEC, and after the later merger, UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Bowles looks to bounce back from that loss with a fight on the main card Thursday night against Damacio Page, which is actually a rematch from 2008 when he previously choked out Page. If Bowles wins, don’t be surprised if he is fighting for the title later in 2011.
Damacio Page (15-5) is hoping history doesn’t repeat when he once again faces Brian Bowles, but this time in the UFC instead of the WEC.
Page’s early career was spent in smaller promotions like New Mexico’s Southwest Cage Association before he finally made his way to the WEC. His time there has been rather hit-and-miss. His previous fight was a submission loss to Demetrious Johnson at WEC 52.
The chance to redeem his earlier loss to former champion Bowles is a big opportunity for Page and would really help him climb the ranks in the new UFC bantamweight division.
Danny Castillo (10-3) is a versatile lightweight with an even number of knockout and submission victories. He is making the move from the WEC.
Castillo began last year with a first-round knockout loss to Anthony Pettis at WEC 47. He then began to turn things around with a unanimous decision victory over Dustin Poirier at WEC 50 and a knockout of Will Kerr a little over one minute into their fight at WEC 53.
Castillo will be facing long-time UFC fighter Joe Stevenson on the preliminary card at UFC Live on Versus 3.
Shane Roller (9-3) is another WEC import looking to climb the ranks of the UFC lightweight division.
Roller’s early fights were in promotions native to Oklahoma, such as Masters of the Cage, High Roller Productions and C3 Fights. After he picked up three wins in a row, the WEC invited him to compete nationally.
Roller nearly fought his way to the championship but was derailed at WEC 50 last year when Anthony Pettis caught him in a triangle choke. Since then Roller has bounced back with a Submission of the Night victory in the first round over Jamie Varner.
Roller now has to fight his way to the UFC Lightweight Championship, and he begins with a match against Thiago Tavares on the preliminary card.
Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2) is a former title contender in the WEC’s bantamweight division that has made the move to the UFC.
Mizugaki made a name for himself in Japan’s Shooto and Greatest Common Multiple promotions before coming to America to fight in the WEC. Since then he has been alternating wins and losses.
He is coming off a loss at WEC 52 where Urijah Faber submitted him in the first round. Mizugaki hopes to finally be able to pick up some momentum as he now continues his career for the UFC, with his first match being against Reuben Duran.
Reuben Duran (7-2-1) faces a large step-up in competition as he makes his UFC debut on the preliminary card.
Duran fought for smaller organizations like Apocalypse Fights and California’s All Star Boxing before stringing together some wins in King of the Cage to get the invitation to come to the UFC.
He began last year with a fight in KOTC, where he knocked out Ryan Diaz with just three seconds remaining in the fight. He then fought for Californian promotion Long Beach Fight Night and caught Maurice Eazel in a guillotine choke just over one minute into the fight.
His most recent effort was another KOTC match and he once again won by guillotine choke in the first round, this time over Kana Hyatt. Now Reuben Duran gets the chance to make a name for himself in the UFC bantamweight division with a fight against Takeya Mizugaki on the undercard.