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Heavyweight Knockout artists collide in UFC return to Columbus

Las Vegas, January 28: UFC returns to Columbus, Ohio for the first time in 11 years with a thrilling heavyweight contenders' bout between two knockout artists in the main event on March 28.

UFC Fight Night on ESPN: Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik will be headlined by a heavyweight clash between No. 2 ranked Francis Ngannou and undefeated No. 5 Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

A former heavyweight title challenger, Ngannou (14-3, fighting out of Paris, France by way of Batie, Cameroon) has delivered some of the most spectacular knockouts in the division's history.

Over the course of his career, he has earned stoppage victories over Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes (twice). Ngannou now looks to be the first fighter to defeat Rozenstruik and re-assert himself as the top contender for a heavyweight title shot.

The breakout UFC star of 2019, Rozenstruik (10-0, fighting out of Paramaribo, Suriname) wasted no time cracking the heavyweight division's top five.

Since debuting on the roster last February, he has delivered four consecutive knockout victories-including a dramatic comeback win against Overeem with four seconds left on the clock. Rozenstruik now hopes to secure his first title shot with another show-stealing knockout against one of the division's most feared strikers.

In an exciting clash of top bantamweights, No. 5 ranked contender Raphael Assuncao faces former champion and current No. 9 Cody Garbrandt.

A perennial bantamweight contender, Assuncao (27-7, fighting out of Alpharetta, Ga. by way of Recife, Brazil) has bested many of the top 135-pound fighters in the UFC.

Throughout his career, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has netted victories against TJ Dillashaw, Aljamain Sterling, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font. With Garbrandt in his sights, Assuncao now looks to regain momentum by going behind enemy lines and taking out another former UFC champion.

A native of Uhrichsville, Ohio, Garbrandt (11-3, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.) aims to begin his ascent back to the top of the 135-pound division with a highlight-reel win in his home state. Known for his spectacular knockout power, he has finished the likes of Takeya Mizugaki and Thomas Almeida.

In 2016, he became the first fighter to defeat former champion Dominick Cruz in almost a decade. Garbrandt now aims to get back on the winning track and re-stake his claim as one of the top bantamweights in the world.

Announced bouts on the card include:

• In a pivotal clash of bantamweight contenders, No. 3 ranked Aspen Ladd (9-1, fighting out of El Dorado Hills, Calif.) meets No. 4 Julianna Peña (10-3, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.)

• Hard hitting heavyweights collide when Greg Hardy (6-2 1NC, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) squares off with Yorgan De Castro (5-0, fighting out of Fall River, Mass. by way of Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde)

• No. 12 ranked strawweight contender Tecia Torres (10-5, fighting out of Colorado Springs, Colo.) takes on Mizuki (14-5, fighting out of New York, N.Y. by way of Fukuoka, Japan)

• 15-year MMA veteran, and Columbus' own, Matt Brown (24-16, fighting out of Columbus, Ohio) looks to blow the roof off Nationwide Arena when he takes on undefeated prospect Miguel Baeza (7-0, fighting out of Davie, Fla.)

• Louis Smolka (16-6, fighting out of Kapolei, Hawaii) faces Davey Grant (11-4, fighting out of Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England) in an exciting bantamweight bout

• Khalil Rountree Jr. (9-4 1NC, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) locks horns with Sam Alvey (33-13 1NC, fighting out of Temecula, Calif.) in a battle of light heavyweight strikers

• Dana White's Contender Series signee Punahele Soriano (6-0, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) goes for another big finish against battle-tested Eric Spicely (12-6, fighting out of Olneyville, R.I.)

• Undefeated heavyweight Carlos Felipe (8-0, fighting out of Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil) debuts against Ohio's own Jeff Hughes (10-3 1NC, fighting out of Independence, Ohio)

• Laureano Staropoli (9-2, fighting out of La Plata, Argentina) squares off with Dana White's Contender Series signee Philip Rowe (7-2, fighting out of Orlando, Fla.)

• Martin Day (9-3, fighting out of Kailua, Hawaii) takes on Randy Costa (5-1, fighting out of Taunton, Mass.) in a bantamweight bout

Source: Press Release

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Story first published: Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 11:26 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 28, 2020
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