by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
There is always speculation regarding “the big announcement” leading up to an Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view event. Well, for UFC 66, headlined by Chuck Lidell vs. Tito Ortiz 2, there could be multiple announcements. The UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC, has been busy purchasing other companies of late, the World Fighting Alliance (WFA) and World Extreme Cagefighting among them, but it will be the fighters acquired that garner most of the attention.
The biggest of those announcements is expected to be the UFC’s acquisition of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, the 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix champion. Sherdog.com reported that Filipovic’s signing will be revealed on the pay-per-view with his first opponent slated as Eddie Sanchez. MMAWeekly sources have indicated that the fight will take place on February 3rd on the UFC 67 fight card, which is already slated to feature two title fights, and most likely Quinton Jackson’s UFC debut.
In addition to the Filipovic signing, MMAWeekly sources have confirmed that Heath Herring has signed a five-fight deal with the UFC. Herring was one of the fighters whose contract with the WFA was purchased by Zuffa. His first fight for the UFC is scheduled for January 25th on a UFC Fight Night card to be televised live on Spike TV. Herring’s first opponent in the UFC will be Jake O’Brien.
At one time Herring was ranked near the top of the heavyweight division, vying for the championship in Pride. The fight with O’Brien will be his first in nearly a year. He last saw action when he knocked out Gary Goodridge at the K-1 Hero’s show in March of 2006.
O’Brien is a strong up-and-comer out of Indianapolis, Indiana. While he doesn’t have the experience that Herring does, O’Brien is undefeated and has two wins under his belt in the Octagon. While he’s no walk in the park for Herring, it will likely be the toughest test yet for the former Purdue wrestler.