The UFC has confirmed they're heading back to Los Angeles where "Shogun" Rua will battle Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight title at UFC 104 on October 24th. Also confirmed is a new opponent for Cain Velasquez, who was left with no one to play with after his previously scheduled foe Shane Carwin was given an upgrade to title contention against Brock Lesnar.
UFC newcomer "Big" Ben Rothwell will take on Velasquez in the co-main event at the Staples Center. This addition immediately makes the heavyweight division even more interesting. Big Ben was scheduled to fight Chase Gormley at Affliction Trilogy on August 1st before the organization decided to cease all promotional efforts. Rothwell was among the crop of fighters to actually benefit from the sudden unemployment by picking up a UFC contract. Gormley was also picked up by the UFC and that fight was rescheduled to take place at UFC 104. No replacement for Gormley has been made official yet. Tickets will go on sale for UFC 104 Saturday, August 29th at 10AM PDT.
So, just to recap...
UFC 104 originally had Shane Carwin vs. Cain Velasquez and Ben Rothwell vs. Chase Gormley. Carwin has been rescheduled to face Brock Lesnar at a later date. Velasquez will fight Ben Rothwell at UFC 104 and Chase Gormley has no official opponent but is still expected to fight at UFC 104.
Coming out of the Miletich camp, Rothwell is one of the most seasoned veterans in the sport with notable wins over former UFC champion Ricco Rodriguez, former IFL champ Roy Nelson, and Krzysztof Soszynski (twice). His matchup with Velasquez could be setting up a potential contender for the heavyweight belt. The UFC also has the upcoming fight between Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which could set up another reasonable contender for the heavyweight crown.
You also might want to keep you eye out for a rematch between Rothwell and Nelson, who is competing on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Rothwell squeaked out a razor-close decision over Nelson in one of the best fights of 2007. Nelson has since been vocal about his desire for a rematch and, should he end up with a contract, he would probably jump at the chance to scratch that loss off his record.
With this sudden influx of heavyweights, the UFC's flagship division is finally settling in as one of the most competitive and exciting divisions in mixed martial arts.