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Kevin Lee in for Stevie Ray, faces Jake Matthews at TUF 23 Finale

Matthew Wells

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Scotland native Stevie Ray has been forced out of his showdown with Jake Matthews at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on July 8 in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Stevie Ray has encountered visa issues, which has resulted in being pulled from the fight card. This slot on the card has seen its share of shake-ups, as Jake Matthews was an injury replacement of Tae Hyun Bang, and now with Ray’s removal, makes for a completely new and exciting matchup in the lightweight division.

Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (12-2, 4-2 UFC) will step in for Ray, creating a fight between two of the brightest young stars at 155 pounds. Lee’s most recent outing in the Octagon saw him emerge victorious by way of a unanimous decision over Efrain Escudero at UFC 197. Prior to his shocking upset to Leo Santos at UFC 194, Lee was on a four-fight win streak in arguably the toughest division in the entire sport. A win over Matthews will give Lee a push up the ladder at 155, the division of which he hopes to find himself the champion in the near future.

Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews (10-1, 4-1 UFC) will carry a two-fight win streak to the Octagon on July 8, ending fights early against  Johnny Case and Akbarh Arreola. The 21-year-old Australian’s only blemish during his five-fight UFC tenure came by way of submission to the surging James Vick. All four of Matthews’ wins in the UFC have come by early stoppage, in fact, only one of his 11 professional fights have required a decision from the judges. The styles of fighting that Matthews and Lee bring to the cage should result in an exciting clash during International Fight Week.

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale takes place July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, featuring a fight between TUF 23 coaches for the UFC Strawweight Championship, as the Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk takes on her rival Claudia Gadelha. The event is the second of the three-event weekend that is International Fight Week.

As of now, TUF 23 Finale’s fight card includes:

  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha *UFC Strawweight Championship*
  • Thiago Tavares vs. Doo Ho Choi
  • Ross Pearson vs. James Krause
  • Jake Matthews vs. Kevin Lee
  • John Moraga vs. Matheus Nicolau Pereira
  • Gray Maynard vs. Fernando Bruno
  • Cezar Ferreira vs. Anthony Smith
  • Jingliang Li vs. Anton Zafir

For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Announcement

Dhiego Lima vs. Yushin Okami added to Glendale, Arizona card

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Fights, fights, fights, the world-wide leader in MMA added another fan-friendly bout to the already exciting ‘Fight Night: Glendale’ card. Two time ‘Ultimate Fighter’ finalist, Dhiego Lima takes on veteran Yushin Okami. Lima took to Instagram earlier today to announce the news.

Four days after adding an important Heavyweight clash to UFC Glendale, the promotion booked another crucial bout, in the Welterweight division. While, neither fighter ranks inside the top 15 of the Welterweight division, both sit at pivotal points in their career. In the case of Lima, he comes off a second appearance on the reality series, The Ultimate Fighter. Much like his first appearance, the Welterweight made the competition finals.

Lima first appeared on the reality series during Season 19: Team Edgar vs. Team Penn. In the preliminary round, he defeated Adam Stroup via unanimous decision (2 rounds), to earn a place in the house. From there, he submitted both his quarter-final and semi-final opponents. Lima left the Ultimate Fighter house undefeated, down the line, he did a similar thing on the 25th season of the show. He defeated Hayder Hassan, Gilbert Smith, and Tom Gallicchio, all by unanimous decision leaving the house undefeated for a second time.

Unfortunately, the inverse of his performances in the ‘TUF’ house came to fruition in the finals. In two Ultimate Fighter Finale’s, his record fell to 0-2, following Ultimate Fighter Finale Season 25. What happened to be even more unfortunate, Lima’s opponent at, The Ultimate Fighter Finale Season 25, Jesse Taylor, tested positive for the anti-estrogen agent clomiphene. The sample collected for the failed drug test was in an out-of-competition setting, therefor Lima’s loss to Taylor stands. The loss puts his record with the UFC at, 1-4.

A loss shouldn’t place Lima near the chopping block but, a win would greatly improve his standing with the promotion. The other half of the newly announced bout, is in a similar position.

Yushin Okami made his first appearance for the promotion at UFC 62. Okami earned the victory in his debut. The win marked his third consecutive win in the midst of a six fight win-streak. Over the course of those six victories, Okami defeated Alan Belcher (UFC 62), Kalib Starnes (UFC 64), Rory Singer (UFC 66), and Mike Swick (UFC 69). The Japanese born mixed martial artist remained on the roster for seven more years before being cut following a first round TKO loss to Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.

Okami fought for various organizations following his release, while also dropping down to Welterweight. When, in the latter part of 2017, he was called upon as a short-notice injury replacement by the UFC. Seven days before UFC Fight Night 117: St. Preux vs. Rua, one half of the main event, Maurico Rua, withdrew due to an apparent knee injury. Okami answered the call, giving him seven days to prepare for rising Light Heavyweight contender, Ovince St. Preux. The Japanese native lost the contest by submission in the opening round.

UFC Fight Night Glendale takes place in Glendale Arizona at the Gila River Arena on April 14th. The main event features Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirer.

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Announcement

Aspen Ladd, Leslie Smith head trio of Fights Announced for UFC Atlantic City

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The UFC shall return to the east coast, bringing fights to Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is the first trip to the east coast city of sin since July of 2016. With the announcement, paired a trio of fights, featuring Aspen Ladd vs. Leslie Smith. The UFC made the announcement during the broadcast of Saturdays UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders.

Alongside the high stakes booking of Ladd vs. Smith, the promotion announced two additional fights for the New Jersey event. New York-native Merab Divalishvili against Augusto Mendes in the men’s bantamweight division, and Magomed Bibulatov takes on Ulka Sasaki in the flyweight division.

UFC Atlantic City takes place on April 21st, broadcast on FS1. Boardwalk Hall hosts, as the venue of the event. The venue holds a bit of UFC history in its walls. Boardwalk Hall hosted three UFC events, the first of which in 2003, when the venue hosted UFC 41. Taking fans back to the days when events were ‘originally’ named, UFC 41: Onslaught hosted the likes of Matt Serra, Yves Edwards, Din Thomas, and Rich Clementi,  on the undercard. UFC 41’s main card featured Frank Mir vs. Tank Abbott, Caolo Uno against BJ Penn, Matt Lindland vs. Phil Baroni, and Tim Sylvia defeated Ricco Rodriguez for the Heavyweight title in the main event. Boardwalk Hall also hosted UFC 50: The War of ’04, and UFC 53: Heavy Hitters.

According to a report from MMA DNA and confirmation by MMAFighting.com, Siyar Bahadurzada meets Luan Chagas at UFC Atlantic City as well. The bout takes place in the Welterweight division. Chagas and Bahadurzada both ride wins into the match-up. Chagas victorious in his previous match up against Jim Walhead at UFC 212, looks to make consecutive victories in New Jersey. On the other end, Bahadurzada holds a two fight win streak. With a 3-2 UFC record, the Afghani looks to continue to move up the ranks in an extraordinarily deep UFC Welterweight division.

The promotion also announced during the broadcast, UFC Fight Night: Utica, New York. Utica, New York is a new city for the UFC, never having held an event there. UFC Fight Night: Utica takes place on Friday, June 1st at the Adirondack Bank Center.

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Fight Announcements

Arjan Bhullar vs. Adam Wieczorek Official for UFC Glendale

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Heavyweights will battle in Glendale. The third bout of the domestic card pits Arjan Bhullar against Adam Wieczorek. An announcement by the promotions international twitter account, UFC India, made the announcement earlier this morning.

The UFC’s return to Arizona already draws wide eyes. Glendale currently plans to host Justin Gaethje against Dustin Poirer and Carlos Condit facing Matt Brown.

Both Heavyweights come into the match-up with one fight and victory under the promotional banner. Bhullar made his debut at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada against Luis Henrique. He earned the victory by unanimous decision. His victory was a familiar sight, the Canadian-born is undefeated in 7 professional fights. Glendale, Arizona marks the first pro fight for Bhullar outside his home country of Canada. Previously, he fought under Canadian-based promotions, Hard Knocks and Battlefield Fight League.

Arjan Bhullar is yet another accomplished wrestler having a successful start to his MMA career. The Heavyweight is a two-time NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), Canada Wrestling’s 2009 Wrestler of the Year, and represented Canada at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

His opponent, Adam Wieczorek, made his UFC debut in Sydney, Australia at UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum vs. Tybura. Wieczorek earned his victory by unanimous decision as well, defeating Anthony Hamilton. The Polish fighter had a different experience than his opponent, in booking his debut. Before scheduling and ultimately competing against Hamilton in Australia, Wieczorek saw two rescheduling’s and one opponent withdraw.

With a record of 9-1, his only loss came in his second professional bout. Wieczorek lost to fellow Polish UFC fighter and#8 ranked Marcin Tybura back in November of 2011. The bout also happened to be Tybura’s second pro fight, he won the contest by unanimous decision.

UFC Glendale takes place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday, April 14th.

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