It’s time for another edition of Something Old, Something New where we get you up to speed concerning those making their UFC debuts this week and reintroduce you to those coming back from long spells on the sidelines.
This week we look at UFC Fight Night 103 taking place this Sunday night at the Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The event is headlined by the return of UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn who will take on the Mexican-walking highlight reel Yair Rodriguez and the card will also feature Polish BJJ champion Marcin Held who will face fan favourite Joe Lauzon.
First we take a look this week at the fighters who return to the octagon after lengthy spells of inactivity and have been out of action for over 12 months.
B.J. Penn (16-10-2) – Featherweight
At 38-years-old, one of the greatest fighters to ever enter the Octagon will once again step inside the cage as B.J. Penn makes his comeback in Phoenix this weekend where he will try to recapture old glories against Mexican sensation Yair Rodriguez.
Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 17, “The Prodigy” earned his name when he was awarded what is thought to be the fastest legitimate black belt among active BJJ practitioners by the age of 22.
Attracting the attention of the UFC with his success in grappling tournaments, the Hawaiian would make his debut in 2001 and never looked back. On his way to becoming one of the promotion’s first cross-over stars, Penn would fight and find joy in both the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions and was the first fighter to have won belts and simultaneously be ranked #1 in two different divisions.
Famous for his all action style and natural abilities, Penn will have to be on top of his game and a much-changed fighter from the one we saw before his retirement when he lost five of his final seven bouts before retiring in 2014.
Nina Ansaroff (6-5) – Women’s’ Strawweight
Having only fought twice in the last three years, both of which ended in defeat, Nina Ansaroff gets her chance this weekend to rescue her UFC career against fellow struggling Strawweight Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger.
A pair of decision losses to Julianna Lima and Justine Kish have left the 31-year-old without a win in the UFC and sandwiched between those was a canceled fight with Rose Namajunas when Ansaroff came in overweight and then was pulled from the card on short notice with the flu.
With a second round TKO over Munah Holland at Invicta FC 7 the most impressive performance of her career way back in 2013, “The Strina” desperately needs a win this weekend or faces only ever being known as the girlfriend of current UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
Next, we look at this week’s debutants including the latest face to be spotted on the road by Dana White and a highly touted prospect from the MMA Labs camp.
Devin Powell (8-1) – Lightweight
Devin Powell makes his UFC debut in Phoenix after being spotted on the first episode of season two of UFC’s hit YouTube show ‘Dana White: Looking For A Fight’ when they visited Maine for a New England Fights show with Powell on the main card.
A first round submission victory stretching his win streak to six was enough for White to offer Powell a UFC contract and he will face fellow debutant Drakkar Klose after original opponent Jordan Rinaldi was forced to pull out with an injury.
With four finishes in his last six fights and having previously competed under the WSOF banner, the 28-year-old Nostos MMA owner gets a chance to showcase his talents on the big stage and begin an upward journey in a very congested Lightweight division.
Drakkar Klose (6-0-1) – Lightweight
Called in on short notice to welcome Devin Powell to the octagon at UFC Phoenix is undefeated prospect Drakkar Klose who after six straight victories remains undefeated in his professional career with four of his wins coming by KO/TKO.
The MMA Lab fighter has quickly risen through the regional scene and most recently won a unanimous decision victory over Hugh Pulley at RFA 44 in September last year. After only seven professional fights, his exciting and crowd pleasing style have no doubt accelerated his arrival in the UFC.
Being a regular sparring partner of former UFC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson carries expectation and 28-year-old Klose will be ready to grab this opportunity just a short drive from his adopted Glendale, Arizona home.