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UFC on Versus 3 officially adds Natal-Sakara, Hendricks-Thiago, Cantwell-Diabate

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UFC on Versus 3 officially adds Natal-Sakara, Hendricks-Thiago, Cantwell-Diabate

Post  Admin on Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:42 am

by MMAjunkie Staff

The fight schedule for the UFC's first-ever event in Kentucky is nearly complete.

UFC brass today officially added three more contests – including Rafael Natal vs. Alessio Sakara, Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Thiago and Steve Cantwell vs. Cyrille Diabate – to the UFC on Versus 3 fight card.

All three contests were previously reported by (

Featuring a welterweight matchup between perennial contenders Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez, UFC on Versus 3 takes place March 3 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.

Natal (12-3-1 MMA, 0-1-1 UFC was originally expected to face Maiquel Falcao, who was forced to withdraw from the matchup due to injury. "Sapo" seeks his first UFC win in three trips to the octagon. "Sapo" suffered a unanimous-decision loss to Rich Attonito in his debut at UFC Fight Night 22, and a return bout at UFC 124 ended in a draw with Jesse Bongfeldt following a back-and-forth three-round affair.

Sakara (15-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) is anxious to get back in the cage and hopes to extend a recent three-fight win streak. With a bit of a career resurgence, the Italian striker has posted knockout wins over Joe Vedepo and James Irvin and a split-decision win over Thales Leites. Due to a mixture of scratched bouts, injuries and a family death, the UFC on Versus 3 bout will be just the third Sakara has had in the past 19 months.

Hendricks (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) experienced the first loss of his professional career in his most recent appearance when he was outpointed by Rick Story at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale. The setback snapped a four-fight streak earned after his migration from the WEC to the UFC.

Thiago (13-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC), meanwhile, has his back to the cage. Despite an all-out effort that won him "Fight of the Night" honors, he was outpointed by the persistent Sanchez this past October at UFC 121. That compounded a decision loss to division standout Kampmann in his previous fight.

Cantwell (7-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has had a difficult time getting into the octagon as of late. The former WEC light-heavyweight champion was due to meet Stanislav Nedkov in October at UFC 120 but was forced to withdraw only 48 hours prior to the event with a knee injury suffered in the practice room.

It was supposed to be Cantwell's first fight back after the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to issue him medical clearance for a fight against Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 108. He spent five months on the bench as the commission reviewed his denial, which centered around the medical paperwork he submitted for the January bout. In May the commission gave him the all-clear for a fight license.

Cantwell was heavily rumored for a bout with Ricardo Romero in July at UFC 116, but the bout did not materialize. He hasn't fought since September 2009, when he lost a unanimous decision to former WEC champ Brian Stann in a rubber match of two previous meetings in which they swapped wins. His skid started one fight prior when he was outpointed by Luis Cane at UFC 97.

So it's easy to surmise that if Cantwell doesn't make this fight, he may find himself on the unemployment line.

Diabate (16-7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is not safe either following a submission loss to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 120. The setback snapped a six-fight win streak capped by an impressive knockout win over Cane in the striker's octagon debut at UFC 114.

For more on UFC on Versus 3, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of


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