by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce vice president Mike Afromowitz on Tuesday announced that Midwest fighter Ryan Jensen has been tapped as the replacement for Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos for Saturday’s Strikeforce/EliteXC co-promoted event. He will step in to face Greg Jackson-trained Joey Villasenor.
“(Santos) has been having visa problems in Brazil,” Afromowitz told MMAWeekly.com on Friday. “The delay in his arrival would jeopardize him getting licensed in time for the fight.”
The delay caused Strikeforce officials to make the decision to move ahead without Santos and determine a new opponent for Villasenor instead of risking the fight falling apart altogether.
Jensen is the third opponent for Villasenor on this fight card. Before Santos, he was originally expected to face Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Joe Riggs, who had to bow out due to a spinal injury.
With a professional record of 11-3, Jensen enters the cage on Saturday night coming off of back-to-back losses in a brief stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His only other loss was three years ago to World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight contender Brock Larson.
Jensen trains out of Mid-America Martial Arts with the likes of Chad Reiner, Jake Ellenberger, Ryan Roberts and Jason Brilz, as part of the MAMA’s Boyz fight team.
Villasenor defeated Riki Fukuda last September, but has remained in limbo since, awaiting his next bout in hopes of working his way back into title contention.
The Villasenor vs. Jensen bout is expected to be part of the five-fight televised portion of the event to air on Showtime. The main event features Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock defending his belt against contender Cung Le. Strikeforce lightweight titleholder Gilbert Melendez faces Gabe Lemley in defense of his belt.
A planned battle between Jake Shields and Drew Fickett for the vacant EliteXC welterweight championship was scratched on Tuesday, as Shields had to withdraw due to a back injury. The promotion is currently searching for a possible replacement to face Fickett in a non-title bout.