In this week’s Something Old, Something New we look ahead to UFC Fight Night 108 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee where we are almost guaranteed action in the main event as popular featherweight Cub Swanson goes toe-to-toe with “The Russian Hammer” Artem Lobov. In the co-main event, we see the return of Al Iaquinta after a two-year absence as he takes on UFC veteran Diego Sanchez in the lightweight division.
This week in SOSN, we once again look at the returning names of the “forgotten” men who have been sidelined for over 12 months as well as look to the fresh faces making their UFC debuts in Nashville. This week, we start off with this weeks’ lone debuting fighter who is a potential force in the women’s’ divisions and makes her first UFC appearance on Saturday.
Cindy “Battlecat” Dandois (8-2) – Women’s Bantamweight
Making her UFC debut in Nashville this week, Cindy Dandois will attempt to continue the success she’s had around Europe and in Invicta FC when she takes on Canadian veteran Alexis Davis in the bantamweight division.
The Belgian talent originally made her MMA debut back in 2009 after switching over from her main discipline of judo after winning both judoka and grappling tournaments in her home country. Instantly finding success, Dandois would defeat the far more experienced WMMA pioneer Marloes Coenen in a massive upset on her debut in the Netherlands. “Battlecat” would continue to a 5-1 pro record with her only loss coming to Invicta title challenger Yana Kunitskaya before she took a break from the sport to pursue teaching full-time and to concentrate on her family.
Dandois was tempted back into the sport by friend Miesha Tate when she joined the American’s camp to help Tate with her judo before a fight with Ronda Rousey. The Belgian would start splitting her time between Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and Perfect Team in her native Belgium before making her return to the sport in 2014 under the Invicta banner to fight bantamweight champion, Tonya Evinger. The 32-year-old would lose to the champion via submission, however, she has won all three of her fights since then including a win over now-Invicta featherweight champion Megan Anderson to earn her call-up to the UFC.
Able to fight at both bantamweight and featherweight, Dandois could feature in either division for the UFC and murmurings of a rescheduled fight with Cris Cyborg refuse to go away after their previously scheduled bout was scrapped in December 2015.
Now we look at the two UFC veterans returning from long layoffs this weekend in Nashville as both look to build momentum and make an impact on their respective divisions.
“Ragin” Al Iaquinta (12-3-1) – Lightweight
Lightweight Al Iaquinta finally makes his return to the Octagon for the first time in two years, after finally settling his prolonged contract dispute with the UFC, when he takes on veteran Diego Sanchez in Nashville this weekend.
The 29-year-old New Yorker started his career in East Coast promotion Ring of Combat, becoming their lightweight champion, before getting his chance with the UFC when he was chosen to take part in The Ultimate Fighter 15. He would blow through the competition in that year’s live series taking out Myles Jury and Brit fighter Andy Ogle on his way to the final where he lost via submission to season winner Michael Chiesa.
Since signing to the promotion after TUF 15, Iaquinta would continue to collect the scalps of big name fighters and other promising prospects such as Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon on his way to winning seven of his eight fights since appearing on the show. In his last fight, “Ragin’ Al” scored a split decision win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fight Night 63 in April 2015 despite thirteen out of fifteen media outlets scoring the fight to his opponent. The crowd would boo the decision with Iaquinta cursing at the audience and storming off without answering any questions post-fight.
Having retired briefly in 2016 to pursue a career in real estate, it didn’t take long for the Serra-Longo product to decide he would return to MMA and the BJJ purple belt will attempt to make it five wins in a row when he takes on the newly nicknamed “Lionheart” at UFC Fight Night 108.
Joe Proctor (11-4) – Lightweight
After pulling out of a scheduled bout with Erik Koch due to an injury in May last year, Joe Proctor has been absent from action since losing to Magomed Mustafaev in December 2015 at UFC 194.
The Lauzon’s MMA product made his professional debut in 2008 under the Reality Fighting banner and went 7-1 before earning his place on TUF 15. His run on the show would take him to the quarter finals where he eventually lost to James Vick via unanimous decision however the New Englander was still given a chance in the UFC.
Proctor would defeat Jeremy Larsen on his promotional debut on the TUF 15 Finale, however, has had mixed fortunes since then. Despite victories over Cristiano Marcello and Justin Salas, the 31-year-old has a 4-3 record in the promotion and has suffered from a lack of momentum as losses to Ramsey Nijem and Yancy Medeiros have put him back to square one.
After being absent for nearly 18 months, Proctor will face arguably the toughest test of his career, when he faces Bryan Barbarena at lightweight on Saturday, in what will surely be his last opportunity to make an impact in the UFC.