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Las Vegas, Nevada – The Ultimate Fighting Championship organization returns to Minneapolis this Friday for an all-action card at the Target Center, which will be broadcast on FX at 8pm ET/PT, immediately before an all-new episode of The Ultimate Fighter Fridays airs.
Following on from last Saturday’s heavyweight thriller, which saw Stefan Struve knock out Stipe Miocic, two other top heavyweight contenders collide as undefeated Travis Browne takes on Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
The 6ft 7inch, 250lbs-plus Browne has showed rapid improvements to both his striking and submission games, knocking out Struve and tapping Chad Griggs in two of his last three fights.
Meanwhile, “Bigfoot” has the opportunity to reassert himself at the top of the division with a victory and, able to match size with Browne, will be looking to unleash the devastating ground and pound which famously accounted for his win over Fedor Emelianenko.
In the co-main event, top welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger has a chance to avenge his first professional defeat when he takes on the returning Jay Hieron. Ellenberger – a winner of 10 of his last 12 fights – has thunderous power in his fists and has stopped the likes of Mike Pyle and Jake Shields. Hieron, though, is more motivated than ever in his first UFC fight in seven years and is in the form of his life, having only dropped one controversial split decision since 2007.
Also on the four-fight FX card, elite flyweights John Dodson and Jussier Formiga clash in a fight to determine the No.1 contender for newly-minted UFC 125lbs champion Demetrious Johnson. Dodson believes he is the one man in the division who can match speed with the reigning champ, but first must contend with the other-worldly submission skills of the best flyweight in Brazil, the 27-year-old Formiga.
Travis Browne said: “I’m happy to be back. I haven’t fought since April and missed out on a huge opportunity when my opponent dropped out of UFC on FOX. But fighting Bigfoot on FX – in the main event – is a great opportunity for me, too. The heavyweight division is more stacked than ever, it is so hard to get into the top five right now, and everyone is looking so impressive, so you have to be consistently impressive.
“I’ve had some good wins, and I’ve had wins where I wish I could have shown more. The key now is to fight at the best of my ability for every fight. I’ve got a huge chance against a big name in Bigfoot, he’s beaten some top guys, and I’ve got to go out there and show the best of myself. I’m always looking to finish, but if it goes five rounds I am ready.
“If I do that, I know I can impress and move up the rankings. I feel I am better than ever and it is my time to shine.”
“Bigfoot” Silva said: “This is a very important fight for me, and I won’t let it go past the second round. It is a five round fight but, five rounds or three rounds, I don’t like decisions on my record. I will do my best to finish Travis Browne inside two rounds. He’s the second or third person I’ve fought who is bigger than me, but it does not matter, it is no problem. I know I can take him down to the ground and ground and pound him – for sure that is where I am very dangerous. But I have been training very, very hard on my standup. He is a very tough guy, undefeated, but I am so, so confident I will beat him inside two rounds.”
Jake Ellenberger said: “I’m a completely different fighter from the one he beat all that time ago. He’s a different fighter, too, so the first fight has nothing to do with Friday. I’m going to be happy to avenge that defeat, for sure, but it isn’t like I’ve been thinking about it since the fight. I feel I can win this fight and get back to the top of the division and challenge for the title. That’s the reason I am here.
“I know I can compete with the best but I will never look past any opponent. That is where you lose consistency and have disappointing fights. I’ve learned to be more patient when I hurt someone, and I feel I’ve tightened up a lot of things since my last fight. I realize now I’ve got 15 minutes to finish fights and I think you’ll see this new maturity in my fight this Friday.”
Jay Hieron said: “I’ve never had anything handed to me, and I’m glad it went this way. It is a shame UFC 151 got cancelled, as it would have been cool to fight in my hometown of Vegas, but I am just glad I’m going to fight in the UFC. I always believed I belonged in the UFC, that I was as good as the guys in the UFC.
“It is tough, living in Vegas, living in the UFC’s home town, and seeing all these big cards all the time. I have cornered on big UFC shows and wondered when I would be back in the Octagon myself. I had people ask me if I was an amateur fighter, because why wasn’t I in the UFC? I’ve had great runs, beaten top guys, but it just wasn’t my time. Either I was signed or I was injured, it just never worked out for me to come back to the UFC, but I never got deterred.
“I couldn’t ask for a better comeback fight than Ellenberger. I beat him before, and I will beat him again. I fought him back in 2006 and he was a hot prospect, he didn’t know he could lose and I beat him on points. I know he’s super-tough, and a much different fighter with a ton of experience, but I know I can beat him again. I know him very, very well.
“I beat him in our fight and then I cornered Mike Pyle and Martin Kampmann against him. Jake’s last loss was to Martin and we spent a lot of time breaking down Jake’s style so Martin could take advantage of his weaknesses. I feel I know what Jake brings to the Octagon as well as anyone. I taught him how to lose.”
John Dodson said: “This is a huge fight for me, and a big one for the division, a No1 contender’s match. Right now, everyone is trying to figure out who is who in the 125lbs class. Who fits where and who belongs at the top. Formiga is the best fighter in Brazil, he’s got phenomenal BJJ and his striking has improved a lot too. I will prove why I deserve the title shot. I think he will try to strike, because he cannot take me down. Not him, not anyone. Many have tried, all have failed.
“I want the fight against DJ. We are the two fastest fighters in the UFC and I want to match my speed against his. Some people say he’s the fastest, some people say I am. We got to fight to see who is the fastest. I really want to match what I got against what he’s got. But I have to make a statement Friday night against Formiga. I will knock him out. If I stop him – or can you imagine if I tap him out – I’m doing a triple summersault – a 360 – off the cage.”
Jussier Formiga said: “I’ve been waiting for this chance to fight in the UFC for years and, finally, there is a flyweight division so I can showcase my skills. I know Dodson is a powerful striker and is very fast, but I am a BJJ and judo black belt and am looking forward to the fight. I’ve been working very hard on my punches and have a good uppercut, and I am looking forward to showing this in the fight. I am looking forward to the whole UFC experience. I can’t wait to show the UFC fans what I can do.”
The four-fight UFC on FX card will be broadcast live on FX this Friday at 8pm ET/PT, with preliminary fights airing live on FUEL from 5pm ET/2pm PT.
Then, also on FX, at 10pm ET/PT The Ultimate Fighter continues with “Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson – Can’t Fix Stupid”. In this episode, UFC President Dana White treats the fighters to a special outing away from the house. After coach Roy Nelson uses a bizarre method to pick the next matchup, one fighter’s weight problem puts his future in jeopardy. Then, two more welterweights face off in the Octagon.