Just days after it was revealed that heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Stefan Struve were set to meet at UFC on FOX 13, two new heavyweight matchups also became official for the highly anticipated event.
On Friday, the UFC announced that former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos would make his long-awaited return to the octagon against Stipe Miocic in the main event of the upcoming fight card, which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 13 at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
Dos Santos (16-3) has not been seen inside a UFC cage since suffering a one-sided beat-down at the hands of UFC heavyweight champion and longtime rival Cain Velasquez in their title fight at UFC 166 in October. Dos Santos was originally scheduled to face Miocic in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 3 finale before a broken hand forced him to withdraw from the bout.
Miocic (12-1) scored a violent first-round knockout over dos Santos’ replacement, Fabio Maldonado. Prior to the win, the Croatian earned back-to-back decision victories over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. To date, Miocic’s only blemish is a second-round TKO loss to Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 5 in September 2012.
Also announced was a heavyweight matchup between former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Matt Mitrione and submission specialist Gabriel Gonzaga.
Mitrione (8-3), a veteran of the tenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” is coming off a 41-second knockout of Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 50 earlier this month. Prior to the victory, fans saw “Meathead” walk away with a first-round knockout of Shawn Jordan at the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter: China” in March, earning a Performance of the Night bonus in the process.
Gonzaga (16-8), a nine-year UFC veteran, was riding a two-fight winning streak that featured knockout victories over Shawn Jordan and Dave Herman before losing to Miocic.
A lightweight contest between Joe Ellenberger and Bryan Barberena was also made official for the card, though they will likely appear on the Fox Sports preliminary card prior to the main card. The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC Fight Night 44 before an injury forced Barberena out of the bout.
Ellenberber (15-1), the twin brother of welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, recently made his highly anticipated UFC debut with a decision win over Barerena’s replacement James Moontasri. This gave “Excalibur” three straight victories since he suffered his first career loss to Justin Salas in 2011.
Barberena (9-2), who will be making his UFC debut, is riding an impressive six-fight winning streak, with five ending by way of stoppage. His most recent performance ended in a first-round knockout of Eric Moon in February.
Here’s how the UFC on FOX 13 card is shaping up:
- Junior dos Santos (16-3) vs. Stipe Miocic (12-1)
- Alistair Overeem (37-14) vs.Stefan Struve (25-6)
- Matt Mitrione (8-3) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (16-8)
- Jamie Varner (21-10-1) vs. Drew Dober (14-6)
- Derek Brunson (12-3) vs. Ed Herman (22-10)
- Joe Ellenberger (15-1) vs. Bryan Barberena (9-2)