Bustamante Injury Scrambles Wednesday’s Fight Club Card


An unspecified injury has forced onetime UFC middleweight champ Murilo Bustamante (Pictured) to withdraw from his main-event bout against Yuya Shirai at Wednesday’s Fight Club event in Rio de Janeiro.

“I suffered an injury last week which I’ve been trying to deal with since, unfortunately without success,” Bustamante, 44, announced Monday via Twitter. “It’s a very sad moment for me, because it would be a dream come true to fight in Brazil again after 14 years of fighting abroad.”

According to a report from Tatame.com, welterweight Delson “Pe de Chumbo” Heleno has agreed to take Bustamante’s place against Shirai in what will now be a 180-pound catchweight contest. Originally slated to take part in the show’s undercard, Heleno was also left without a fight after original opponent Luis “Besouro” Dutra withdrew and replacement Gil de Freitas was also stricken by injury.

A former member of the Renzo Gracie-coached New York Pitbulls squad in the International Fight League, Heleno enters the bout on an eight-fight win streak. The 33-year-old Rio native holds a record of 21-5, including victories over Jake Ellenberger, Daniel Acacio and Waachiim Spiritwolf.

Shirai, 31, is the reigning welterweight titleholder of Japan’s Deep organization. A training partner of UFC and Pride vet Ryo Chonan, Shirai had a successful five-fight run snapped in February, when he was knocked cold by Strikeforce contender Paul Daley in London. Shirai’s only other loss since 2008 came against Jason High in the opening round of Dream’s 2009 welterweight grand prix.

Wednesday’s Fight Club card, which takes place at Rio’s Via Show nightclub, will also feature top Brazilian light heavyweight Glover Teixeira against Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz, as well as a one-night, four-man welterweight tournament.

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