Thanks to a pair of injuries, UFC 166 has a new featherweight fight.
An injury has knocked Estevan Payan (14-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) from his fight with Charles Oliveira (16-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC). And the recent car accident that has Matt Grice (15-5 MMA, 2-5 UFC) still hospitalized with a head injury meant Jeremy Larsen (8-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) was without an opponent.
Now Oliveira and Larsen will fight each other on the preliminary card. UFC officials announced the new booking on Tuesday night.
UFC 166 takes place Oct. 19 at Houston’s Toyota Center and is headlined by a rubber match between heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and ex-champ Junior dos Santos.
Oliveira is badly in need of a win in the UFC. The Texas-based Brazilian took on ex-champ Frankie Edgar at UFC 162 and lost a unanimous decision. Previously, he was knocked out by Cub Swanson at UFC 152.
In his first appearances at featherweight, Oliveira went 2-0 with wins over Eric Wisely and Jonathan Brooks. As a lightweight, he went 2-2 in the octagon.
Larsen, too, may need a victory to stay with the promotion. The “TUF 15? veteran, who trains at Arizona Combat Sports with Payan, has lost both of his official fights in the UFC. AT the TUF 15 Finale, he was stopped by Joe Proctor in the first round. And at UFC on FX 8 in May, he was knocked out by Lucas Martins 13 seconds into the third round.
Payan was hoping to get back on track after a decision loss to Jeremy Stephens in his UFC debut at UFC 160. The Arizona-based fighter transitioned to the promotion after winning back-to-back fights in the now-defunct Strikeforce. Prior to his loss to Stephens, Payan had won five straight bouts.
With the change, UFC 166 now includes:
MAIN CARD (PPV, 10 p.m. ET)
PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 6:30 p.m. ET)
For the latest on UFC 166, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Charles Oliveira)