(This story appears in Wednesday’s edition of USA TODAY.)
With the loss of UFC 161's planned headliner between Renan Barao (30-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) and Eddie Wineland (20-8-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Ultimate Fighting Championship officials looked to add some firepower to the event’s lineup. Roy Nelson (19-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC) and Stipe Miocic (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) answered the call.
USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed with UFC President Dana White that Nelson and Miocic have agreed to meet on the main card of the event, which takes place June 15 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Rashad Evans (17-3-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC) now headlines the card.
The planned main event was scratched when Barao suffered torn ligaments in his foot. UFC officials are currently seeking another opponent for Wineland, and if one is secured, the event will feature six fights on the evening’s pay-per-view card instead of the traditional five contests.
Nelson, the No. 8-ranked heavyweight in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com Rankings, enters the fight with an impressive three-fight win streak that includes three first-round knockouts over Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione and Dave Herman. The win streak is Nelson’s longest since 2008 and has “Big Country” knocking on the door of title contention.
Meanwhile, Miocic recently cracked the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com Rankings’ top-15 list. The 30-year-old Ohio native opened his career with nine straight wins, including three UFC victories. He fought most recently in the main event of this past September’s “UFC on FUEL TV 5: Struve vs. Miocic” event, where he suffered a TKO loss to Stefan Struve.
Miocic had been expected to face Australian heavyweight Soa Palelei (18-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who is now left without an opponent. Palelei will now serve as a backup opponent should any injuries disrupt UFC 161's heavyweight bouts of Nelson vs. Miocic or Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan.
For the latest on UFC 161, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Roy Nelson)