The Ultimate Fighting Championship earlier today announced the complete card for it’s upcoming UFC 82: Pride of a Champion event, which will take place on March 1st at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The event is headlined by a middleweight title unification bout between current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and PRIDE middleweight champion Dan Henderson. Previously announced main card bouts include a heavyweight affair between Cheick Kongo and Heath Herring as well as the return of former champion Evan Tanner as he takes on Japanese sensation Yushin Okami.
The two other televised bouts that were officially announced this morning involved former Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez challenging newcomer David Bielkheden and Jon Fitch, who remains undefeated inside the confines of the UFC going up against Team Quest’s Chris Wilson.
Luigi Fioravanti and Luke Cummo will both return to action in a welterweight bout together. Ohio natives Dustin Hazelett and Jorge Gurgel will both be in action at the event. Gurgel will face off against fellow lightweight John Halverson and Hazelett will take on powerhouse wrestler Josh Koscheck, who will be fighting in a preliminary bout after two consecutive lackluster performances.
The most high-profile preliminary bout includes an undefeated Jake O’Brien attempting to pass the biggest test of his career against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. This will mark the first time in over five years that Arlovski has not been promoted as part of the main card of an event, further confirming the notion that he has decided to not re-sign with the company.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that a rumored bout between Chris Leben and Alessio Sakara was not annnounced as being part of the card.
Diego Sanchez weighs-in for UFC 69: Shootout. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Diego Sanchez will now take on Swedish welterweight David Bielkheden at UFC 82: Pride of a Champion on March 1st at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Sanchez made the announcement late yesterday via MySpace. His original opponent, Roan Carneiro, was forced to bow out of the bout after coming down with an undisclosed illness.
“He’s a tough guy that comes forward and he fights out of American Top Team,” said Sanchez told MMA Weekly. “He has good ground and stand-up and was man enough to take the fight.”
The former middleweight winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter is coming off of the first two losses in his career, dropping consecutive unanimous decisions to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch respectively. Sanchez considered after a potential move to lightweight after the defeats but ultimately decided to stay at 170 lbs.
Bielkheden competed this past weekend at Lord of the Ring’s inaugural event where he stopped Nikola Matic with strikes in the first round. The Stockholm native also owns a win over current UFC middleweight Charles McCarthy.