by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As we get closer to fight time for the next two Ultimate Fighting Championship events, UFC Fight Night in Florida and UFC 64 in Las Vegas, as typically happens in the fight game, there have been a couple of opponent changes to the fight cards.
Nathan Marquardt, ranked #9 in the MMAWeekly MMA Top Ten Rankings, was originally slated to face Thales Leites on October 10th’s Fight Night card. Evidently, Leites is having difficulty getting his visa processed in time and will not be able to compete.
Though not officially confirmed yet, it appears that Crafton Wallace will be stepping in to take his place against Marquardt. Wallace lost his debut UFC fight to Martin Kampmann at the August UFC Fight Night, but has since won two fights in a row and brings a 13-2-1 record to the Octagon.
Although we were unable to reach Marquardt for a confirmation on his opponent, days earlier he had said that he “has had an excellent training camp.” With teammates Keith Jardine fighting on the following UFC event and Joey Villasenor fighting on Pride’s U.S. debut on October 21st, Marquardt revealed, “We’ve been doing some new conditioning with Mike Van Arsdale and we’re all in the best fight shape that we’ve ever been in.”
Following Tuesday night’s fights, the UFC will run their next pay-per-view event four days later in Las Vegas. On the undercard, Kurt Pellegrino was scheduled to fight Wander Braga, but Braga has had to withdraw from that bout.
Stepping in to face Pellegrino is UFC newcomer Junior Assuncao. Training out of his own gym, Unit Two Fitness in Atlanta, Georgia, Assuncao brings a 4-1 record to the cage while Pellegrino sports a record of 8-2 and has one UFC fight under his belt, a loss to Drew Fickett.
Assuncao has a very strong jiujitsu game, much like his opponent and was actually preparing to do some training with Pellegrino’s team led by Hermes Franca. Obviously, those plans had to change.
But even though Assuncao steps in on short notice, he feels he is prepared to make his UFC debut. “Honestly, I wish I had 3 more weeks for weight cutting,” he commented, but “I only have to cut about 8 pounds. I feel good. It’s a good opportunity for me.”
As for his opponent, Assuncao feels he matches up well. “He’s a good wrestler, good jiujitsu,” he remarked. “I’m a jiujitsu guy, but I’m open for anything. Wherever it goes, you never know. I am ready. At this level, whatever happens, it is going to be exciting.”