Who (John Dodson) and what (the UFC’s bantamweight division), we’ve known for a while.
Now, we know when (April 16), where (Tampa, Fla.) and against whom (Manvel “Manny” Gamburyan).
The UFC announced today that Albuquerque’s Dodson, a longtime contender at 125 pounds, will face Gamburyan at 135 pounds on Fox 19 at Tampa’s Amelie Arena.
It is not Dodson’s bantamweight debut, since he defeated then future and now former UFC 135-pound champion T.J. Dillashaw by first-round TKO in The Ultimate Fighter 14 finale in December 2011. But, since then, the Jackson-Wink fighter has campaigned only at 125 pounds. He has a 5-2 UFC record at flyweight, both losses coming by unanimous decision against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
Shortly after his second loss to Johnson last September, Dodson (17-7) announced he would move up to bantamweight.
Gamburyan (15-8) lives and trains in the Los Angeles area, where he’s a teammate and training partner of Ronda Rousey at Glendale Fighting Club. He fought at lightweight (155) and featherweight (145) before dropping to bantamweight after a May 2014 loss to Nik Lentz.
He’s 2-0 since then, with victories over Cody Gibson (second-round submission, guillotine choke) and Scott Jorgensen (unanimous decision).
IT’S NATE, NOT COWBOY: Nate Diaz, not Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, will replace Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event of UFC 196 on March 5 in Las Vegas, Nev., UFC President Dana White announced Tuesday night.
Diaz (18-1) will faced Ireland’s Conor McGregor (19-2), who was to have challenged Dos Anjos for the Brazilian’s UFC lightweight title. It was announced earlier Tuesday that Dos Anjos has a broken foot and had to withdraw from his title defense against McGregor.
That night’s semimain event matches Albuquerque’s Holly Holm, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, against challenger Miesha Tate.
Cerrone (29-7), who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink MMA, campaigned on Twitter for the opportunity to face McGregor.
“Pick me, pick me,” Cerrone tweeted Tuesday, two days after his victory by first-round submission (triangle choke) over Brazil’s Alex Oliveira.
Instead, the UFC picked Diaz, whose record includes a victory by unanimous decision over Cerrone in December 2011.
Cerrone’s one-word response to White’s announcement could not be printed in this newspaper.
In announcing the fight on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” White said it would take place at the 170-pound welterweight limit. McGregor, the UJFC featherweight (145-pound) champion, was to have fought Dos Anjos at 155 pounds.
Diaz has fought at 155 for most of his career.
No title will be at stake when Diaz and McGregor step into the cage. Robbie Lawler is the UFC welterweight champion.
KHABILOV: Dagestani lightweight Rustam Khabilov (17-3), who trains at Jackson-Wink, is scheduled to face Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke (21-4) Saturday on UFC Fight Night 84 at O2 Arena in London.
Khabilov will be seeking to re-enter the UFC’s top 15 at 155 pounds after back-to-back losses to Benson Henderson (fourth-round submission, rear naked choke) in Albuquerque and to Adriano Martins (split decision) in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The card will not be televised but will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, starting at 2 p.m. MST.
The main event matches former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva of Brazil against England’s Michael Bisping.