Salil Gulati from Spike sent along the following:
New York, NY, January 12, 2009 — Spike TV heads across the pond for the fourth time to telecast a UFC fight card when “The Ultimate Fighter” champions Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (Season 1), making his debut in the lightweight division, and Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (Season 2) meet in a bout which headlines the telecast LIVE Saturday, February 21 at 9:00pm ET/PT (same-day tape delay) from the O2 Arena in London, England.
UFC 95’s co-features are pivotal bouts in the middleweight and welterweight divisions, as Wilson Gouveia and Nate Marquardt meet at 185 lbs, and Rory Markham and Dan Hardy collide inside the Octagon at 170 lbs.
On the undercard, Josh Koscheck will look to spoil the UFC debut of newcomer Paulo Thiago in welterweight action, and submission specialist Demian Maia will welcome Chael Sonnen back to the UFC’s middleweight division in Sonnen’s first bout since coming over from the WEC.
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (34-9) from Victorville, CA, burst onto the MMA scene while appearing on “The Ultimate Fighter 2,” defeating Luke Cummo in the show’s finale to win the welterweight competition. After dropping down to lightweight, Stevenson defeated a succession of impressive opponents, including Yves Edwards, Melvin Guillard, and Kurt Pellegrino, to earn a shot at the lightweight title against BJ Penn. And though Stevenson fell short in his title effort, he looks to kick off 2009 on a winning note against Sanchez.
Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (21-2) will make his debut in the lightweight division at UFC 95, a far cry from his days on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, where he, incredibly, fought at middleweight. After defeating Kenny Florian to take home “The Ultimate Fighter” crown at Season 1’s finale, Sanchez dropped down to welterweight, and rattled off wins against some of the division’s best, including Nick Diaz, Karo Parisyan, and Joe Riggs. After dropping back to back bouts to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, Sanchez left the welterweight division on a high note, besting David Bielkheden and Luigi Fioravanti before announcing his move to lightweight. Now he’ll be aiming for his third straight win, this time with his eyes on BJ Penn’s lightweight belt, as he takes on Stevenson.
The night’s co-features will go a long way towards sorting out the contenders from the pretenders in the middleweight and welterweight divisions.
In middleweight action, Wilson Gouveia (12-5) is on a quest to win his third straight bout, and seventh in eight tries. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, who trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, most recently defeated Jason McDonald at “The Ultimate Fighter 8” finale. He achieved this victory like he has all of his wins inside the Octagon: by finishing the bout before it went to the judges’ cards. Gouveia will look to continue that trend against Nate Marquardt.
Marquardt (30-8-2), who trains with Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting camp in Albuquerque with current light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, made his UFC debut in 2005, and won his first four matches en route to a title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 73 in July of 2007. Like so many of Silva’s foes, Marquardt dropped his bout with “The Spider,” but is hungry for another shot at the reigning middleweight champ. He began his quest by defeating Martin Kampmann at UFC 88 this past September, and Gouveia is the next step in his journey back towards the top of the 185 lbs. weight class.
In the welterweight division, Rory Markham takes on UK native Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy in a battle of two of the most promising talents in the division. Markham (16-4), a member of Team Miletich in Bettendorf, IA, made his UFC debut at “Ultimate Fight Night: Silva Vs Irvin” in July, winning by knockout in the first round over Brodie Farber. Finishing fights is not uncommon for Markham, who, in twenty professional bouts, has never had a fight go to decision. He’ll face a stiff test in Hardy (20-6, 1 NC), who showed great resiliency in winning his UFC debut against Akihiro Gono in October at UFC 89. Hardy won that slugfest via split decision, and the Nottingham, England native has never been stopped in a fight. He’ll need that iron jaw against Markham, as both men try and ascend the ranks of the welterweight division.
Also on the card, Josh Koscheck (14-3), coming off one of the most devastating knockouts of 2008 in defeating Yoshiyuki Yoshida on the UFC Fight for the Troops card in December, will take on UFC newcomer Paulo Thiago (7-0) in welterweight action. In the middleweight division, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu virtuoso Demian Maia (10-0) will look to remain perfect in the UFC and win his fifth straight fight via submission as he faces Team Quest member Chael Sonnen (23-9-1), who is fresh from a November 2008 victory over previously unbeaten Brazilian phenom Paulo Filho.