A UFC 82 fight between former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski (11-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and undefeated heavyweight Jake O’Brien (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is now official, according to O’Brien’s camp.
A representative from the camp today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that bout agreements have been signed for the fight.
UFC 82 takes place March 1 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva takes on former PRIDE stand-out Dan Henderson in the night’s main event.
This latest booking solidifies what is easily one of the deepest cards in recent UFC history. However, with 10 rumored bouts featuring some of the UFC’s most recognizable names, at least two of the following four fighters will likely be stuck on the night’s un-televised preliminary card: Arlovski, Cheick Kongo, Josh Koscheck and Diego Sanchez.
The 28-year-old Arlovski hasn’t competed since April 2007's UFC 70 event, where he scored a unanimous-decision victory over UFC newcomer (and former PRIDE fighter) Fabricio Werdum. Prior to the fight, UFC President Dana White hinted that the winner might be in line for a title shot. Arlovski posted a clear-cut unanimous-decision win at the overseas event, but it didn’t exactly sit well with fans expecting fireworks from the two heavyweights. And, of course, the title shot never came.
Arlovski has just one fight remaining on his current deal, which expires on April 15. He will likely hit the free-agent market after his fight with O’Brien.
O’Brien, a former Purdue University wrestler, had surgery this past July because of “stingers,” a painful nerve injury that originates in the spine. The 23-year-old went under the knife so a titanium rod could be implanted in his neck and cadaver discs placed in his spine. In fact, the injury was at first considered potentially career-ending. However, O’Brien returned to limited training in November, and by December, he was 100 percent and able to incorporate grappling into his training sessions.
Although O’Brien has posted decision victories in his past two fights, he began his career with eight straight knockouts.
For the full UFC 82 fight card, check out the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.