Joe Lauzon Vs. Hermes Franca To Headline UFC Fight Night 17

Salil Gulati sent along the following:

New York, NY, December 19, 2008 – Spike TV will be showcasing some of the rising stars in the UFC with the first ever “UFC Fight Night” from Tampa, FL, with a main event featuring a lightweight battle between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experts Joe Lauzon and Hermes Franca. Spike TV’s live “UFC Fight Night” will emanate from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa , Fl. on Saturday, February 7 from 9:00 — 11:00 PM, ET/PT. Also appearing on the fight card will be Mac Danzig (“The Ultimate Fighter 6” champion), Amir Sadollah (“The Ultimate Fighter 7” champion), and undefeated heavyweight Cain Velasquez.

Joe Lauzon made an impressive debut in the UFC with a knockout over Jens Pulver at UFC 63 in September 2006. Lauzon, from suburban Boston , gained further acclaim as a standout fighter on “The Ultimate Fighter 5.” However, his road to a UFC title shot hit a speed bump when he dropped a matchup to current #1 lightweight contender Kenny Florian this past April. Lauzon rebounded with a win against Kyle Bradley in September, and is determined to continue his ascent in the UFC’s lightweight division against Franca .

The 33-year old Franca (18-7) from Fortaleza, Brazil trains in Jupiter, FL, had won eight straight mixed martial arts bouts prior to losing to then lightweight champion Sean Sherk at UFC 73 in Sacramento last summer. After a year long layoff, Franca returned to the Octagon this past July and dropped a tough decision to Frankie Edgar, before getting back on the winning track in winning a grudge match with American Top Team’s Marcus Aurelio at UFC 90 in October.

Even though Mac Danzig (18-5-1) was a standout mixed martial artist in the “King of the Cage” promotion, it wasn’t until he dominated “The Ultimate Fighter 6” in 2007 that he gained national acclaim. Since claiming “The Ultimate Fighter” title over Tommy Speer last December, Danzig has a 1-1 record including a recent loss to Clay Guida in September on Spike TV. Currently training with Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas , Danzig needs a victory over Neer to continue his path to a lightweight crown. Nicknamed “The Dentist,” the 25-year old Neer (21-7-1) is a native of Des Moines and trains with the renowned Team Miletich. Neer won an impressive decision over UFC veteran Din Thomas in April, but saw his three-fight winning streak end in September with a split-decision loss to Nate Diaz in the main event of a “UFC Fight Night” on Spike TV in Omaha in September.

In heavyweight action, one of the division’s most promising talents, Cain Velasquez, looks to spoil the debut of UFC newcomer Denis “The Menace” Stojnic. Velasquez (4-0), with an impressive pedigree as a two-Time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University , is anything but one dimensional inside of the Octagon. One of the most explosive strikers in the UFC, Velasquez has been dominant in compiling an undefeated record. In fact, none of his bouts have lasted more than one round with all four ending via TKO due to strikes. Looking to end Velasquez’s winning streak is Stojnic (5-1), a heavyweight hailing from Sarajevo who has had similar success on the European mixed martial arts circuit.

Also on the card, in middleweight action, Amir Sadollah will enter the Octagon for the first time since winning “The Ultimate Fighter” as he battles UFC newcomer Nick Catone. Sadollah (1-0) made the mixed martial arts world take notice as he steamrolled through the competition en route to winning “The Ultimate Fighter 7” finale against C.B. Dolloway via armbar this past June. Since then, the 28-year old Sadollah has given up his surgical technician’s job in Richmond , VA and moved to Las Vegas to train fulltime with Team Couture. Sadollah aims to keep his perfect record intact against the undefeated Catone (5-0), fighting out of Toms River, NJ, who is making his UFC debut.

The entire fight card will be announced shortly.

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